Privacy: April 24 -25, 2014

What's Become of Privacy? Old Values, New Realities


Professor Austin Sarat
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science; Associate Dean of the Faculty

April 24, 2014

Professor Austin Sarat considers what we mean when we talk about privacy and what values privacy denotes. Is privacy simply a negative guarantee or does it name anything affirmative? If privacy is the "right to be let alone" what happens to it in an era in which we willingly disclose so much about ourselves? Do claims of privacy come at too high a cost in a world of threat and danger? By considering some of the traditional values associated with privacy we may be in a better position to assess its continuing meaning in today's world.

Loading the player...

Transparent Architecture: Charles Fourier and Utopian Self-Surveillance

Ever since the publication in 1975 of Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish, much critical attention has focused on the way governments spy on their citizens. Historians, sociologists and political scientists have explored the power dynamics inherent in this dystopic model of vision. By analyzing the ideal community imagined by the French utopian philosopher Charles Fourier (1772-1837), Laure Katsaros, associate professor and chair of French, proposes to look at surveillance from the opposite direction. She will ask what happens when privacy is surrendered voluntarily, and when surveillance, instead of being denounced, is embraced as a prerequisite for social justice and collective harmony by those one would expect to resist it the most -- namely, dreamers and revolutionaries on the avant-garde.

Audio icon Amherst Today part 5_ Katsoros.MP320.26 MB
This is How It's Done

Dan Burnett '14, who is writing his senior thesis on data privacy issues online, will give a hands-on demonstration on the way that social media sites aggregate meta-data and leverage this information to create comprehensive user profiles for third-party advertisers.

Audio icon Amherst Today part 4_ Dan Burnett.MP322.25 MB

Finding the Balance

Martha Umphrey, professor and chair of the department of law, jurisprudence and social thought, will ask Marcy Wheeler '90 and Nicole Ozer '97 to respond to some key questions around finding a balance, both technologically and socially, between security and privacy concerns, and about the way new technologies both enable and disable democratic practices.  There will also be time for group questions and discussion.

Audio icon Amherst Today part 6_ Umphrey.MP328.62 MB