Computing after the World Trade Center:
Surveillance and Privacy

An SCS Community discussion with

George Duncan, Professor, Heinz School of Public Policy
Elaine Newton, Ph.D. Student, Engineering and Public Policy
Illah R. Nourbakhsh, Assistant Professor of Robotics
Mike Shamos, Principal Systems Scientist, LTI
Latanya Sweeney, Assistant Professor, Heinz School of Public Policy
Witold Walczak, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh ACLU

moderated by
Lenore Blum

Thursday, November 1
Wean 7500
4.00 p.m.
CMU Campus

(donuts, of a distinguished variety, at 3.45)

sponsored by
the newly revived Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility

The events of September 11th have already begun to impact computing. Congress has passed sweeping new laws enhancing law enforcement surveillance abilities, in service of the War on Terrorism. How much safer will they make us, and are they worth the loss of personal privacy?

Please join us in adressing privacy and surveillance with researchers and policy makers whose work lies at the heart of the issues. The topics of discussion will include:

  • The pros and cons of publicly accessible encryption
  • National id cards
  • Face recognition technology in airports and sporting events
  • The effects of widespread visual surveillance in Britain and Japan
  • Data mining (e.g., to detect social interactions)
  • Additional topics to be supplied by you

The panelists will be:

  • George T. Duncan. George T. Duncan is Professor of Statistics in the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management and the Department of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a Visiting Faculty at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has published more than fifty papers in such journals as Statistical Science, Management Science, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, Econometrica, and Psychometrika. He chaired the Panel on Confidentiality and Data Access of the National Academy of Sciences (1989-1993), resulting in the book, Private Lives and Public Policies: Confidentiality and Accessibility of Government Statistics. He chaired the American Statistical Association's Committee on Privacy and Confidentiality. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1996 he was elected Pittsburgh Statistician of the Year by the American Statistical Association.
  • Illah R. Nourbakhsh. Illah R. Nourbakhsh is an Assistant Professor in The Robotics Institute. He conducts long-term, theoretical research into robot vision and planning. He is also a major initiator of educational programs in Robotics.
  • Mike Shamos. Mike Shamos is Director of the Universal Library and Principal Systems Scientist in the Language Technologies Institute at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He also holds an adjunct appointment in the Computer Science Department. He has been affiliated with CMU since 1975, teaching in the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Departments. His research interests are in digital libraries, language identification, electronic voting, electronic negotiation, Internet law and policy, and experimental mathematics.
  • Latanya Sweeney. Latanya Sweeney graduated with a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT. She is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and of Public Policy in the School of Computer Science and in the Heinz School of Public Policy, both at Carnegie Mellon University. At CMU, she also started the Laboratory for International Data Privacy which works on real-world data sharing problems. Among her recent projects is the development of a bioterrorism surveillance system. Her work on data privacy has received numerous awards from various disciplines including the Patient Advocacy Award by the American Psychiatric Association and First Prize by the American Medical Informatics Association. She has been invited to speak around the world and before U.S. congressional committees. More information can be found at and

  • Witold Walczak. Witold ("Vic") Walczak is Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU. Walczak specializes in First Amendment free speech and religious liberty issues, and appears frequently as a commentator on civil liberties issues in the Pittsburgh media. He has focused his attention on problems of police misconduct, deficiencies in the services provided by the Allegheny County Public Defender's Office, and, most recently, to the civil rights and surveillance as they relate to the "War on Terrorism". For a recent Op-Ed piece he wrote on this matter, see the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Do you have a question for the panelists?

Ask it here ...

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