Category Archives: Talks & Conferences

Speaking at Two Events in Oslo, Norway

I’ll be speaking at two events in Oslo this week.

The first, on Tuesday 21 August, is a workshop on ‘Technical standards and privacy by design — A half-day Internet Science workshop at the University of Oslo. I’m speaking about what we can learn from the not entirely happy history of P3P.

In the second event is an igov2 Symposium on Governance of the Domain Name System and the Future Internet Project. On Wednesday I will be commenting on a paper by Kevin McGillivray about the changing role of the IANA contract. The IANA contract is one of the agreements between ICANN and the US government regarding the administration of the Domain Name System (DNS), and in light of recent changes in their relationship, it is now both the most important and the most obscure of those agreements. igov2, by the way, is short for “Governance of the Domain Name System and the Future Internet: New Parameters, New Challenges”; the conference runs through Thursday.

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Off to Privacy Law Scholars Conference

While my wife is in Hawaii at the Law & Society conference, I am going to be in Washington DC Thursday and Friday for the 5th Annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference, one of my favorite events of the scholarly year.

PLSC is run by Chris Hoofnagle and Dan Solove, who do a great job. The only bad thing about the event is that every year there are more and more parallel tracks — they are up to EIGHT this year — and I usually want to be be in at least three quarters of them simultaneously. This year I will miss more of the papers then ever before, not only because there are more tracks but because my draft paper, Lessons Learned too Well, was selected (by ballot of the attendees) for the so-called “Encore” track. That means I’ll be one of the six people presenting twice, which is an honor I’m absurdly pleased about. The downside is that because I’ll be presenting a second time, that makes even fewer papers I’ll be able to go to.

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At Cardozo’s “Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age”

I’m in New York for Cardozo Law’s Anonymity and Identity in the Information Age, speaking on the war on online anonymity.

It’s a great program, and I’m on the first panel so then I get to relax and enjoy the event.

Travelling here yesterday I learned two things: First that putting your boarding pass on your electronic device instead of a phone is not a smart move. The person in front of me at the TSA line was not able to have his boarding pass on his iPad read by the TSA screener’s machine. And at the gate, the person in front of me in the boarding queue was not able to have her boarding pass on her smart phone read by the gate agent’s scanner.

Second thing I learned, from the French person sitting next to me on the plane, is that a lot of French people with money are investing in Belgium (!) as a form of tax evasion. Apparently, if you buy an asset there you don’t have to pay tax on the appreciation if you hold it 5-7 years. Thus, among other things, there’s a property boom going on with appreciations of as much as 5% per year. (Bubble, anyone?) It wasn’t clear to me if this was legal tax avoidance, or a classic French fiddle, but my interlocutor seemed to think there was an awful lot of it going on.

Incidentally, last night I saw Venus in Fur. Highly recommended. It has three Tony Award nominations. The play is clever — arch at points, but fun and brainy at the same time — and I think that Nina Arianda in particular has to be a very strong contender for her spectacular performance.

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In NYC, a Work in Progess

I’m in New York for a lightning visit, attending New York Law School’s Internet Law Works in Progress Conference tomorrow.

If I read the program right, I get 25 minutes to talk, and 5 minutes for audience reaction, which is probably the inverse of how I’d wish it were for a work in progress session…

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Official ‘We Robot 2012′ Press Release

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW ANNOUNCES ROBOT CONVENTION Gathering of robot designers, developers and policy wonks

CORAL GABLES, FL (March 14, 2012) — Robots are the next Internet. Eventually, they could be everywhere — in the air, on battlefields, in hospitals, even in your bed. Robots will help capture criminals, take care of the elderly and drive your car.

Like the Internet, their widespread use will bring social and economic transformations. But robots will pose dangers, because in one important way, robots are not like the Internet: They interact directly with the material world. They can and will hurt people — either accidentally or deliberately. “Think of a robot as an iPhone with a corkscrew and a chainsaw attached,” says Professor A. Michael Froomkin of the University of Miami School of Law, who has put together We Robot 2012, a unique conference that will attempt to get a jump on the issues posed by robot technology.

The conference will be held at the University of Miami School of Law, in Coral Gables, Florida, on April 21 and 22.

For all their promise, robots bring with them the potential for legal and policy headaches. If robots come to mimic people with great accuracy, will they change interpersonal relationships? Will the use of robots in law enforcement erode individual privacy and due process rights? Who is responsible when robots learn to harm someone, or to kill? Is it the manufacturer, the programmers, the owners, or perhaps the unwitting neighbor who might have provoked an unexpected response? Who shoulders the criminal responsibility when machines run amok? When is killing by robot a war crime?

The inaugural “We Robot” conference will tackle these issues. It will gather experts on the front lines of robot theory, design and development, as well as those who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots operate. Guests will include Kate Darling, IP Research Specialist at MIT Media Lab and currently co-teaching “Robot Rights” at Harvard Law School; Dr. Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law; and retired Brigadier General Richard M. O’Meara, who is a professor of International Law in the Division of Global and Homeland Security Affairs at Rutgers University.

“We want to start a conversation, both to help robot designers and policy-makers,” Froomkin says. “There are things that both robot designers and policymakers need to be thinking about, and the chance of getting it right is much greater if we get them to think about it together.”

Robots are entering the national agenda. President Barack Obama recently launched the National Robotics Initiative, a program designed to advance “next-generation robotics.” The focus is on robots that can work closely with humans — helping factory workers, healthcare providers, soldiers, surgeons and others.

That is why the time is right for a national conference to consider the social and policy issues that robots will create. “It’s still early enough to make changes,” says Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law. “Some problems will be avoided by early design changes. Other problems may require a tweak in the law to encourage the deployment of helpful new technologies. But in some cases, we’re going to find that there’s just a real conflict between what robots might do and policies we value. Even in those cases, it’s better to start the conversation early.”

The conference is free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required because of limited space. For more information, go to

# # # #

The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. The University of Miami School of Law‘s mission is to foster the intellectual discipline, creativity, and critical skills that will prepare its graduates for the highest standards of professional competence in the practice of law in a global environment subject to continual — and not always predictable — transformation; to cultivate a broad range of legal and interdisciplinary scholarship that, working at the cutting edge of its field, enhances the development of law and legal doctrine, and deepens society’s understanding of law and its role in society; and to fulfill the legal profession’s historic duty to promote the interests of justice.

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Geek Cool in Coral Gables? Who Knew?

Geeky and cool are not things I tend to associate with Coral Gables.

It is beautiful. It is relatively safe by Florida standards. It is relatively well-run compared to much of the County (ok, low bar, but still). Much of it feels very suburban; it’s a nice place to raise kids. The houses survive hurricanes in part due to our somewhat fanatical Building department. But not cool. Not real geeky either, despite having a major university pretty much in the middle of it.

Apparently, however, we have a new coffee shop, the Planet Linux Caffe, one that sounds like it might be both geeky and cool. Here’s how they describe themselves:

Planet Linux Caffe is a Tech coffee shop. Computers running Open Source OS and Applications, Google TV for tech webcast, web conferences, webinar, conferences, magazines and books to read in the place, play station 3 running Yellow Dog Linux…. excellent Italian style coffee, tea, soda, sandwiches, salads, cakes, pies (home made)… Welcome geeks, open source community, artist and every one that love to share information and love to chat.

It’s a few blocks north of my usual stomping grounds, but I definitely intend to stop by as soon as I can, maybe for this Saturday’s meetup on WordPress Extensions And PHP Backdoors.

(No prices on the online menu, though…)

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Hearsay Culture Radio Interview Today

I’ll be on the radio today talking about the ‘Internet Kill Switch’ for an hour as part of the Hearsay Culture series on KZSU — in California. The show streams live online at 12 noon PST, which is 3pm on the East Coast. I’m told there will be a podcast available in about a week.

Hearsay Culture has had an amazing list of great guests in the past, and I’m honored to join the list. The interviewer is Prof. David Levine of Elon University School of Law, who is also an affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, which I presume explains the KZSU connection.

Previously: Slides from my talk on the Internet ‘Kill Switch’ bill, SB 3480..

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