17:30 - 18:30
Disrupting the Surveillance Ecosystem

Short thesis

This session will detail modern government surveillance practices, including their reliance on other governments around the world as well as private companies. It will also explore the challenges and opportunities to oppose these activities, including current proposals to limit data use and transfer. Finally, the panel will highlight the effective practices of anti-surveillance activists worldwide who have begun to hamper surveillance by disrupting these networks.


Modern government surveillance relies on a system of legal data collection authorities, cross-border data transfer agreements, and cooperation of private companies, either voluntarily or by legal compulsion. Under the apparent guise of national security, this system creates a dynamic global surveillance machine that intrudes on the international human rights of users with little to no transparency or accountability.

In the wake of the revelations of government surveillance programs, specifically in the U.S. and UK (made possible by Edward Snowden), several proposals have arisen to limit government reach and authority, both at home and abroad. However, little action has been taken by lawmakers toward implementation of these proposals, and, in fact, many of the proposals are based on misunderstands or misinformation about how the system works.

Finally, in the midst of these legal battles, users are demanding recognition of their individual rights through reform of laws and corporate policies. From the United States to Kenya to Germany, and beyond, users have gathered together to demand an end to bulk, untargeted surveillance practices that treat treat everyone as criminals and bad actors.

This session will explain how the surveillance machine is organized and the challenges and opportunities to reform and fix the system. Special attention will be paid to grassroots movements that have popped up around the world to support change, with the goal of answering the most basic question: how can we protect users?