Cindy Cohn : 2014 Plenary Session


Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Location: Fisher Conference Center, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"NSA Mass Spying, the Constitution and You"
12:15pm - 2pm


Because of the work of Edward Snowden and a growing list of journalists around the world, the US government has now admitted that the NSA has been engaged in mass surveillance of Americans along with others around the world. The government vacuums up massive amounts of communications and communications records, then uses various techniques to search and sort through them, claiming that the initial collection is legally justified by the techniques by which it does the sorting and discarding of untargeted material. We'll discuss a few of the most controversial programs technically, walk through how the Fourth and First Amendments might apply to them. I'll also discuss the status of the various litigation challenges and legislative proposals to reform the NSA, the FISA Court and surveillance law.


Cindy Cohn is the Legal Director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as its General Counsel. She is responsible for overseeing the EFF's overall legal strategy and supervising EFF's fourteen staff attorneys. Ms. Cohn first became involved with the EFF in 1993, when the EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice , the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. Outside the Courts, Ms. Cohn has testified before Congress, been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere for her work on digital rights and has traveled onto the Internet with Stephen Colbert

The National Law Journal named Ms. Cohn one of 100 most influential lawyers in America in 2013, noting: "[I]f Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn." She was also named in 2006 for "rushing to the barricades wherever freedom and civil liberties are at stake online." In 2007 the National Law Journal named her one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in America. In 2010 Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of California awarded her its Intellectual Property Vanguard Award and in 2012 the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded her the James Madison Freedom of Information Award .