Wisconsin International Law Journal Annual Symposium
Friday, April 8th, 2016
University of Wisconsin Law School
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Stamping Privacy’s Passport: The Role of International Law in Safeguarding Individual Privacy
‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence.’
– The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
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.
Register for the event here: Registration
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
– 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?