Computers, Privacy & the Constitution

Computers, Privacy, & the Constitution

Professor Eben Moglen

Columbia Law School, Spring 2024

Last actual office hours of the year will be held just before the lockout, on Friday 24 May from 12n to 5pm. Please feel free to drop by.

To complete this course, you must have posted two drafts of your FirstPaper, and either:

  1. Posted two drafts of your SecondPaper; or
  2. Completed technical projects 1 and 2, below.

Paper revisions should be posted by June 4 if you are a continuing student. If you need an extension, please email me.

Students who intended to complete technical project 2 using hardware borrowed from me and who now cannot do so because they and I are excluded from school will get credit for the exercise anyway. I regret that the occupation's cowardice and incompetence, followed by the closure of JGH for library destruction, interfered with our ability to learn together.

My office hours Spring 2024 are now over. From Friday 24 May I am locked out of my office in Jerome Greene Hall as we begin the most intense stage of library destruction at the law school. I am happy to arrange conversation by phone or video-conference as time allows. Please email me for an appointment.

Technology project 1: Create a GPG key and upload it to the keyservers

Details and instructions

Technology project 2: Installing Tails

Details and instructions

On The Radar

Jonathan Haidt, The Terrible Costs of a Phone-Based Childhood, The Atlantic, March 13, 2024 (alternate source).

Steven Overly, The Government Really Is Spying On You — And It's Legal, Politico, February 28, 2024

Ryan Lizza, Interview with Rep. Jim Himes, Politico, February 17, 2024

Presidents Intelligence Advisory Board and Intelligence Oversight Board Review of FISA Section 702 and Recommendations for Reauthorization, White House, July 2023

Ronan Farrow, How Democracies Spy on Their Citizens, The New Yorker, April 18,2022

Odanga Madung, Kenya's already fragile elections now face a dangerous new enemy: big tech platforms, The Guardian, April 7, 2022

Maria Ressa, We’re All Being Manipulated the Same Way, The Atlantic, April 6, 2022

Kim Zetter, Not the time to go poking around: How former U.S. hackers view dealing with Russia, Politico, March 12, 2022

Glenn S. Gerstell, I've Dealt With Foreign Cyberattacks. America Isn't Ready for What's Coming. New York Times, March 4 2022.

Apostolis Fotiadis et al., A data "black hole:" Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data, The Guardian, January 10, 2022

Eben Moglen, Why Freedom of Thought Requires Free Media, re:publica, Berlin, May 2, 2012 Video Transcript.

Mishi Choudhary and Eben Moglen, Social Media is Flawed by Design, Times of India, February 16, 2021

Shoshana Zuboff, The Coup We Are Not Talking About, New York Times, January 29, 2021

Mishi Choudhary & Eben Moglen, Zuckerberg’s WhatsApp follies, Times of India, January 19, 2021

Avi Asher-Schapiro, Chinese tech patents tools that can detect, track Uighurs, Thomson Reuters Foundation News, January 14, 2021

Nicole Hong, Zoom Executive Accused of Disrupting Calls at China's Behest, New York Times, December 18, 2020

Andrew Roth, Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Daniel Boffey, Oliver Holmes and Helen Davidson, Growth in surveillance may be hard to scale back after pandemic, experts say, The Guardian, April 14, 2020

Cristiano Lima and Vincent Manancourt, Privacy agenda threatened in West’s virus fight, Politico, April 5, 2020

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Saudis suspected of phone spying campaign in US, The Guardian, March 29, 2020

Shaun Nichols, Yeah, that Zoom app you're trusting with work chatter? It lives with 'vampires feeding on the blood of human data', The Register, March 27, 2020

Natasha Singer and Choe Sang-Hun, As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets, New York Times, March 23, 2020

Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, House Passes Bill Preserving F.B.I. Surveillance Powers, New York Times, March 11, 2020

Julian Borger, CIA controlled global encryption company for decades, says report, The Guardian, February 11, 2020

Thomas B. Edsall, Trump’s Digital Advantage Is Freaking Out Democratic Strategists, New York Times, January 29, 2020

Shoshana Zuboff, You Are Now Remotely Controlled, New York Times, January 24, 2020

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Jeff Bezos hack: Amazon boss's phone 'hacked' by Saudi crown prince, The Guardian, January 22, 2020

Eben Moglen and Mishi Choudhary, Convenience vs freedom: Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle shows how social media companies imperil democracy, The Times of India, March 23, 2018

Carole Cadwalladr, ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower , The Cambridge Analytica Files, The Guardian, March 18, 2018

McKenzie Funk, Cambridge Analytica and the Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz, New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016

Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore and Carole Cadwalladr, How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions, New York Times, Mar. 17, 2018

James A. Millward, What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State, New York Times, February 3, 2018.

Jean M. Twenge, Gabrielle N. Martin, and W. Keith Campbell, Decreases in Psychological Well-Being Among American Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Screen Time During the Rise of Smartphone Technology, Emotion, January 22, 2018.

David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, Pentagon Suggests Countering Devastating Cyberattacks With Nuclear Arms, New York Times, January 16, 2018

John Leyden, Android snoopware Skygofree can pilfer WhatsApp messages, The Register, January 16, 2018

Simon Denyer, China's Watchful Eye, Washington Post, January 7, 2018

Josh Chin & Clément Bürge, 12 days in Xinjiang: How China's surveillance state overwhelms daily life , Business Standard, December 21, 2017

Farhad Manjoo, Clearing Out the App Stores: Censorship Made Easier, New York Times, January 18, 2017

Danny Yadron, Supreme court grants FBI massive expansion of powers to hack computers, The Guardian, April 29, 2016

Harry Davies and Danny Yadron, How Facebook tracks and profits from voters in a $10bn US election, The Guardian, January 28, 2016

Fokke Obbema, Marije Vlaskamp & Michael Persson, China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour, Volkskrant, April 25, 2015

Julian Assange, Who Should Own the Internet?, New York Times, December 4, 2014

People Love Spying On One Another: A Q & A With Facebook Critic Eben Moglen, Washington Post, November 19, 2014

Eben Moglen, The GCHQ boss’s assault on privacy is promoting illegality on the net, The Guardian, November 13, 2014


The seminar will address topics on the following themes. We will be building on and updating the linked reference materials in the upcoming weeks so keep an eye on the work in this section.

A Word on Technology Old and New About the Word

This seminar is an attempt to learn about, understand and predict the development of law in a rapidly changing area. We must assemble the field of knowledge relevant to our questions even as we begin trying to answer them. Wiki technology is an ideal match for the work we have in hand. Below you will find an introduction to this particular wiki, or TWiki, where you can learn as much or as little about how this technology works as you want.

For now, the most important thing is just that any page of the wiki has an edit button, and your work in the course consists of writings that we will collaboratively produce here. You can make new pages, edit existing pages, attach files to any page, add links, leave comments in the comment boxes--whatever in your opinion adds to a richer dialog. During the semester I will assign writing exercises, which will also be posted here. All of everyone's work contributes to a larger and more informative whole, which is what our conversation is informed by, and helps us to understand.

Please begin by registering. I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting on the 17th.

Introduction to the CompPrivConst Web

The CompPrivConst site is a collaborative class space built on Twiki [], a free software wiki system. If this is your first time using a wiki for a long term project, or first time using a wiki at all, you might want to take a minute and look around this site. If you see something on the page that you don't know how to create in a wiki, take a look at the text that produced it using the "Edit" button at the top of each page, and feel free to try anything out in the Sandbox.

All of the Twiki documentation is also right at hand. Follow the TWiki link in the sidebar. There are a number of good tutorials and helpful FAQs there explaining the basics of what a wiki does, how to use Twiki, and how to format text.

From TWiki's point of view, this course, Computers, Privacy, & the Constitution, is one "web." There are other webs here: the sandbox for trying wiki experiments, for example, and my other courses, etc. You're welcome to look around in those webs too, of course. Below are some useful tools for dealing with this particular web of ours. You can see the list of recent changes, and you can arrange to be notified of changes, either by email or by RSS feed. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for one or another form of notification; if not, it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the changes yourself.


CompPrivConst Web Utilities


Webs Webs

r391 - 23 May 2024 - 12:24:31 - EbenMoglen
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All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
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