American University Law Review Hosts ‘Privacy in the Age of Emergency’

Annual Symposium Examines the Nexus of Privacy Laws and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Feb. 12, 2021

screen shot of panel

On February 4-5, American University Law Review (AULR) hosted its 2021 symposium “Privacy in the Age of Emergency,” welcoming scholars and practitioners from across the country to discuss the intersection of privacy law and surveillance, technology, and innovation amid COVID-19.

Each spring, the student members of the AULR host a symposium and publish a corresponding issue on a trending legal topic. No events in recent history have disrupted the standard of living more than the ongoing global pandemic said AULR Senior Annual Symposium Editor Kiran K. Jeevanjee during the event’s opening remarks, adding that “almost every sector of the law continues to face novel legal issues in this ‘new normal.’”

“The issue of privacy has been a critical issue in our society for so long,” Acting Dean Robert Dinerstein said during his welcome to attendees. “But COVID-19 has raised them to a particularly high level. This symposium could not be more timely.”

The two-day event featured four panel discussions moderated by AUWCL faculty experts.

On day one, Professor Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, author of The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement, moderated the symposium’s first conversation “Surveillance and Privacy in the Pandemic.” The panel featured Alan Butler, Interim Executive Director and General Counsel of Electronic Privacy Information Center; Boston University School of Law Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor Tiffany C. Li; and Northwestern University Professor of Law and Computer Science Ari E. Waldman.

Professor Jen Daskal, faculty director of AUWCL’s Tech, Law and Security Program, noted the various tools governments have used to help keep the spread of the virus under control, including health care codes and various forms of government surveillance, during the day’s second panel, “Contact Tracing and Other Innovative Technological Responses.” Participants included Duke Professor and Director of the Duke Center on Science and Technology Policy Matt Perault; NYU Assistant Professor of Data Policy Anne L. Washington; and Greg Nojiem, Senior Counsel and Director of the Freedom, Security, and Technology Project, Center for Democracy and Technology.

Read: Professor Jennifer Daskal Named Deputy General Counsel at DHS

Watch: Privacy in the Age of Emergency, Day 2

Adjunct Associate Professor Kirk Nahra, partner and co-chair of Cyber Security and Privacy Practice at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, led the discussion on the “Evolution of Healthcare Privacy” – day two’s first panel discussion. The conversation featured University of Utah’s Distinguished Professor of Law and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Leslie Francis; Indiana University Law Associate Professor and Dean’s Fellow Seema Mohapatra; and Seton Hall Associate Professor Jennifer D. Oliva.

TLS Scholar-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor Alex Joel moderated the event’s final discussion, “Lessons Learned: The Future of Digital Privacy in the United States,” featuring Professor Nahra, University of Minnesota Law School Associate Professor Alan Rozenshtein; and Harvard Kennedy School Adjunct Lecturer and Berkman-Klein Center For Internet and Society Fellow Bruce Schneier.

Founded in 1952, the American University Law Review is the oldest and largest student-run publication at the American University Washington College of Law and publishes six issues each year. As AUWCL’s flagship law review, the Law Review is ranked among the top fifty law journals in the nation. Learn more.