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Controlling Bits and Systems: The Global Future of Privacy, Technology and Public Policy in AI
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 Export to Your Calendar 5/24/2019
When: 05/24/2019
8:30 AM
Where: Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, District of Columbia  20001
United States
Contact: Lorraine Kisselburgh

Online registration is available until: 5/3/2019
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ICA 2019 pre-conference workshop description

Title: Controlling bits and systems: The global future of privacy, technology and public policy in AI

Division co-sponsors:               Communication and Technology

                                                     Communication Law and Policy

Additional sponsors:                 Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

                                                     Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law



Lorraine Kisselburgh, Purdue University,

Michael Zimmer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,

Meg Leta Jones, Georgetown University,

Jessica Vitak, University of Maryland,

Jasmine McNealy, University of Florida,

Laura Moy, Georgetown University Law Center,


Description: We are hosting a full-day pre-conference workshop on May 24, 2019 as part of the International Communication Association’s (ICA) annual conference in Washington DC. The workshop is co-sponsored by ICA’s Communication & Technology and Communication Law & Policy Divisions, the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC), and the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. Situated in the heart of national policy making, the workshop will be held at the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law, just steps away from the US Capitol and the National Mall.

The pre-conference will focus on the intersection of privacy, technology, and policy, and will bring together experts from across multiple disciplines to address emerging challenges. In particular, our aim is to unpack the privacy and policy implications of emerging technological AI systems that increasingly pervade our public and private lives. These include algorithmic decision-making, machine learning, big data, and autonomous systems.  This workshop, addressing both national and global issues in privacy technology policy and law, advances the ICA 2019 conference theme, “Communication Beyond Boundaries,” by furthering cross-disciplinary investigation of privacy, technology, policy and communication, and considering these issues on a global scale.

Rationale: Privacy is a central and contested concept in global communication. Over the second half of the 20th century, privacy came to mean control of one’s personal information. Though privacy is never easy no matter its definition and practice, control strains under the weight of the realities of 21st century digital life. International strife around who controls information and how that control leads to power has generated interesting and global discussions. We seek to take advantage of both the location and theme of the conference by: 1) unpacking what perspectives and approaches policymakers and policy actors take, nationally and globally; 2) critique and provoke ideas to inspire new perspectives and outside-the-box thinking; and 3) create plans of action to develop meaningful research in privacy, technology, and public policy to address the emerging landscape of AI systems.

There is significant need and demand for scholarship to help understand and prevent the challenging issues that have presented in the past few years including data privacy and consent in social computing environments, government surveillance, algorithmic bias, and ubiquitous location tracking via mobile devices. This demand is situated within complicated global politics, as well as complex and rapidly changing technical environments. Additionally, there is an ongoing demand from policy makers and legislative professionals to learn from and be guided by emerging research scholarship. Because of overwhelming datafication efforts, privacy today often means digital privacy and cannot be considered without attention to the design, systems, markets, players, and incentives within which privacy is conceptualized and practiced. The event will take meaningful steps toward meeting the demand present in Washington.

Expected Audience Size:  50

Format: A three-part full-day preconference workshop, with breakfast, lunch, and break and happy hour refreshments included.

Website: For additional information about confirmed speakers, schedule, transportation options, and a call to be included in the research lightning round presentations, see Presentation proposals must be submitted to the organizers by Friday, March 1, 2019.  Online registration is available until May 3, 2019.

Agenda and Schedule:


-   Over breakfast (provided), policymakers, activists, practitioners, technologists, and thought leaders from DC will be asked to discuss emerging issues faced in today's landscape of artificial intelligence systems and technologies. 


9:30 AM     PANEL 1: LAW

-       judges, attorneys, and law professors will discuss recent and upcoming cases of significance in privacy and technology law.


-       individuals from Congress, policy centers and regulatory agencies will discuss significant issues and challenges in the current legislative and regulatory climate.


-       Invited scholars in Communication, Law, and Computer Science will present a round of lightning talks provoking ways to critique and counter-narrate critical privacy and technology issues, nationally and globally.  Speakers will give a 5-minute primer on a topic to generate discussion, addressing an emerging area of research salient to law and policy development. Such issues may include, but are not limited to: AI and algorithms; IoT; biometrics and health data; datafication and the quantified self; surveillance in a ubiquitous collection environment; workplace surveillance; issues of consent/post-consent; and privacy at scale in social computing platforms. These issues will be situated within national and international contexts, to include consideration of applications of privacy law, as well as recommendations for policy development.

12:00-1:30PM       LUNCHEON ADDRESS

-       Over lunch (provided), and following a second keynote speaker, we will facilitate a whole-group discussion of issues and challenges identified during the morning talks, and prioritize five issues to develop during the afternoon session.

2:00-3:30PM          WORKING SESSION

-       During the afternoon session, we will create five working groups who will breakout to consider specific projects for the coming year and outline next steps. These groups will be asked to devise mini policy agendas (e.g., what would it take in research, advocacy, and politics to gain traction on a particular privacy issue).


-       The final session will include a discussion from each group, refinement of research and policy agendas, and a discussion of next steps in both research and practice.

All meals, drinks, and refreshments are included in the registration fee.

Workshop Website:

ICA welcomes your comments and questions. Please feel free to contact the ICA staff at anytime.


International Communication Association
1500 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036 USA

Phone: (202) 955-1444

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