PLSC FAQ – 2019

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Q. What happens in a workshop?

At PLSC, papers are introduced by a “commenter.” This commenter discusses the basic contours of the paper and invites the workshop group to discuss themes and questions raised by it. The author participates in the discussion, but does not present or otherwise direct the conversation. The idea is to help the author understand how others interpret the paper, and to give advice on content and even the strategy of getting published. Workshops are both informal and friendly in nature.

Q. What is the dress code?

Whatever you want to wear. Really. Most participants wear something approximating business casual.

Q. Do I need to submit a paper?

No. Most PLSC participants do not write a paper for PLSC and instead participate in the various paper discussions.

Q. What are the deadlines this year?

Abstract submission: Friday, December 21, 2018

Abstract acceptance: Friday, January 25, 2019

Workshop draft due: Friday, May 3, 2019.

Q. What conflicts of interest do I need to disclose in my paper?

In 2017, the PLSC program committee adopted rules concerning sponsored projects and funding for research programs.

We will no longer accept work where a sponsor has a) a right to pre-publication review, b) a right to pre-publication veto, and/or c) payola, sponsorship that dictates certain outcomes in research. Furthermore, all authors are required to disclose all sources of direct material support for the paper or its research program, and to list all the entities that have provided funding to any author in a consulting or legal representation capacity.

Q. May I submit multiple papers?

Yes, however, for purposes of equity and because there are limited workshop slots at PLSC, we rarely accept more than 2 papers by the same author. Of course we are mindful that in some disciplines, senior academics tend to be a co-author on all their students’ papers. We do not count PIs or senior academics when enforcing our 2-paper maximum policy. 

Q. I like to use slides. Is there a projector and a laptop in the workshop room?

No. Our workshop (and economic) model is based on participant conversation, not presentation.

Q. When will papers be available?

Authors’ drafts are due this year on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Q. Where are the papers?

We circulate a link to participants by email. Shortly after the conference, we delete the papers. If you would like a paper from a previous PLSC, just email the author.

Q. I’d like to report/blog/tweet about the conference. What is the hashtag?

Because authors’ drafts are incomplete and ideas inchoate, we ask that you do not publicize the papers or discussions at PLSC. The point is to help scholars think through their work, and thus we do not blog or tweet, or include journalists at the PLSC.

Q. Are there conference proceedings?

No. There is no commitment (or opportunity) to publish.  

Q. What if my abstract is not accepted? Have I just forfeited the fee?

The point of PLSC is to build a community around privacy scholarship and so we think you ought to still participate in the event. But if you want to cancel, you are free to do so. You may ask for a refund until May 1, 2019 by emailing bclt@law.berkeley.edu.

Q. I need to cancel. Can I get my fee refunded?

Yes, so long as you ask for a refund by May 1, 2019 by emailing bclt@law.berkeley.edu.

Q. May I pay the fee by check?

Yes, please make your check out to the “UC Regents” and mail it to BCLT Attn: PLSC Registration, 421 Boalt Hall, North Addition, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law Berkeley, California, 94720-7200

Q. How can I register for PLSC?

Apologies, you cannot. PLSC is an invite only conference.

Q. Are there other PLSCs?

Yes. There is PLSC-Europe, which rotates among University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law (IVIR), University of Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT), and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS). In 2019, PLSC-Europe will be held Thursday and Friday, 24–25 October, at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

There is also the Northeast Privacy Scholars Workshop, sponsored by the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School and The Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham University School of Law.

Q. When is PLSC 2020?

PLSC is typically held the first Thursday and Friday of June. However in 2018 and 2019, we have not been able to secure a venue for our normal June dates. We will try to get back on track in 2020, when the conference returns to GW.

Q. What are your standards for sponsorship?

Some have called on privacy conferences to not accept sponsorship from companies. We have adopted a sponsorship statement that makes clear that groups that sponsor PLSC have no influence over the event. 

In 2019, we received a letter from several academics requesting that we reject the sponsorship of longtime supporter Palantir Technologies. Our response to that letter is below.

Dear Professor Browne, Professor Klein, Ms. Whittaker, and Professor Taylor,

Thank you for your letter concerning the Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC). I write to offer you the opportunity to participate in PLSC free of charge. Further, we will set aside a session to allow you to present your findings and legal recommendations on the use of software in support of ICE practices.

I think you will see firsthand that PLSC provides a structured opportunity for people to consider issues about the misuse of powerful technology, and I urge you to contribute to those discussions. Many PLSC attendees (including many whose attendance was made possible by the Palantir gift) are working on those issues and would be pleased to have additional input to their efforts.

PLSC, despite being funded by Microsoft, Disney, IBM, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Truste, AT&T, Intel, ChoicePoint, ChoicePoint’s former chief executive, and law firms over the years, has provided many authors the opportunity to present scholarship highly critical of these very companies. In fact, PLSC has become an important place to consider, from an academic perspective, based on data and tested by academic standards of objectivity, intellectual consistency and awareness of past efforts, how data can be and are being misused in support of repressive practices and how, if at all, legal doctrine and theory can be deployed to ensure that powerful tools do not support repressive practices.

In part because we accept corporate funding, we have created a community where people from companies who are concerned about the potential misuse of their technology and who believe in privacy by design can participate and bring knowledge back to their firms. Many scholars critiquing the practices of companies building surveillance technology find it valuable—and find that it helps them sharpen their arguments—to talk to representatives of those companies.

Our approach is one of engagement, discussion, and sharing of our views. Palantir and our other sponsors are willing to engage and listen, and many academics want to bring their ideas to the companies’ attention. The funding of our sponsors actually enables more academics to participate, and our sponsors play no role in the selection of papers or the academics who attend. We have a clear sponsorship policy to guarantee academic freedom of the event. Palantir has agreed to our policy and has abided by it.

I will forward your letter to our program committee. Please do tell me if you and your colleagues would like to participate in the conference.

Regards, Chris Hoofnagle