University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wisconsin International Law Journal Annual Symposium, 2016

April 8, 2016


CLE credit for WI attorneys pending

This year's symposium will be held on April 8th, 2016 at the University of Wisconsin Law School on the theme "Stamping Privacy’s Passport: The Role of International Law in Safeguarding Individual Privacy."


The Wisconsin International Law Journal’s Annual Symposium, hosted by the University of Wisconsin Law School on April 8th, 2016, seeks to explore how the Right to Privacy continues to develop and affect international law, how countries currently are balancing this right with other contemporary issues, such as law enforcement and business, and what the future might look like as technology grows exponentially. The Symposium will broadly explore these central themes:

  • Is privacy more important than national security? Data retention, surveillance, and similar laws are continuously challenged on the ground that they infringe upon individuals’ privacy. In some countries, such as the United States, the needs of law enforcement often outweigh individual privacy, allowing for agencies like the NSA to surveil U.S. citizens. This contrasts with other places, such as the EU, where the right to privacy is given great weight. With the past year, the European Court of Justice struck down the EU Data Retention Directive, finding it to be a grave violation of individual privacy. With such a polarized response to this issue, how can nations balance the right to privacy with the need to adequately protect their citizens from cybercrimes and terrorism?
  • How can countries ensure their citizens’ private information stays safe? Information travels like water, following the path of least resistance. This means that it often crosses into and through other countries, even if its destination is within its country of origin. Tools such as encryption help protect this data from being accessed for malicious purposes, but some countries have taken data protection even further, passing laws which require data concerning their citizens to only be stored on physical servers within the country. Is this viable in today’s world, with businesses becoming increasingly international and increasingly dependent upon the free flow of information?
  • Is the “right to be forgotten” an effective tool in the hands of individuals? A few countries have already passed laws granting citizens a right to be forgotten, allowing them to request their personal information be removed from search engines. Even now, the EU is moving closer to passing legislation which would oblige all member states to uphold a right to be forgotten. How does this balance with traditional notions of free speech?
  • Do nations themselves deserve a right to privacy from other nations? How should nations respond to the events brought about by actors like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden?

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