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The Humanities Center is pleased to announce a series of three lectures by Associate of the Humanities Center

Anita L. Allen
Can I Be Private Me?
Moral and Legal Foundations of Identity

November 14 and 15, 2017

Anita L. Allen is Vice Provost for Faculty and the Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Allen is an expert on privacy and data protection law and ethics, co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016), the most comprehensive textbook in the field. She is a member of the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Medicine. In 2017 she was elected Vice President and President Elect of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. In June 2014, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington D.C. for her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy. Allen’s other books about data protection, values and contemporary life include, Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), and Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003). Allen, who has written more than 100 scholarly articles, has also contributed to popular magazines and blogs, and appeared on television and radio programs and lectured on privacy in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Allen also has served on numerous US editorial, advisory, and non-profit boards including the Association of American Law Schools, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the Hastings Center, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She is currently serving on the IRB of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative and the board of directors of the WCG Foundation.

Choosing to be Black

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
4:15 PM

What can we Americans be? Can we be the “race” of our private choice? Can someone born to two “white” parents, change their racial identity from “white” to “black”? My talk centers around these questions and two others.  What may a scholar write about racial identity? What should an editor publish about racial identity?  These questions came together in an interesting and powerful way as concerns at the heart of a scandal in academic publishing in 2017 that put a little known academic, and a feminist philosophy journal called Hypatia at the center of a national firestorm over, among other things, whether a paper analogizing transgender to “transrace” was fit for publication.  I describe the controversy and address the issues of racial identification behind it, suggesting that the notion of changing one’s race from white to black may be premised on a series of outsider misconceptions.   

Privacy Law/Big Data: Do We Have the Rights We Need

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
10:00 AM

Government and business are “all in” with Big Data. It promises to make government more effective and just, while making businesses more efficient and profitable. “Big Data” Analytics and the Artificial Intelligence they rely on have spawned new concerns about privacy and discrimination. This seminar will describe the roots of privacy law in the U.S., and assess the adequacy of existing law in light of the emergence of communications and digital technologies.  Has big data leapt ahead of the law, leaving vulnerable groups at risk for greater government surveillance, negative profiling and marketplace discrimination?  

Synthesis and Satisfaction: India Gets Privacy

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017
4:15 PM

In 2017, the Supreme Court of India announced that there is a fundamental constitutional right to privacy that bears on whether citizens can be required to participate in a massive biometric data collection by government. The Court released an opinion that was notable for its length, its appeal to and recitation of foreign and international law, and its reference by name to the work of very numerous scholars on the English speaking world.  I argue that (1) the decision is an apt context for considering whether many of the more technical conceptual and theoretical debates about the meaning and value of privacy have been misguided; and (2) that the opinion suggests that old conceptions of privacy in the natural law and national rights traditions are surprisingly serviceable for building a jurisprudence of privacy for the age of digital technologies.


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