Computers, Privacy & the Constitution

Computers, Privacy, & the Constitution

Professor Eben Moglen

Columbia Law School, Spring 2020

Our first meeting will be Wednesday, 22 January, at 2:20pm, room WJWH 417.


  1. Register to use this wiki, unless you are already registered from another one of my courses;
  2. Read the course EvaluationPolicy;
  3. Read all of the wiki introduction on this page. Learn how to refer to the wiki documentation in the TWiki web. Use your personal Sandbox to experiment as necessary. You must be able to write here confidently.
  4. Learn about DejaVu document format, "a better PDF." Get the reading software for your computers and personal tracking devices, so you can read course books;
  5. Be current with what's On the Radar, below.

For January 29, please read the Guardian version of my "Snowden and the Future" lectures:

Eben Moglen, Snowden and the Future, The Guardian, May 27-28, 2014

or the full version of the four lectures at

My office hours are Wednesdays 4:10pm-5:50pm and Thursdays, 10:30am-12n and 3:00-5:00pm (usually reserved for 1L students), in JG642, and by arrangement at other times. Please email for an appointment, or consult my assistant, Jerrica Sosa, at 212-461-1905.

On The Radar

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

r272 - 16 Jan 2020 - 13:58:46 - EbenMoglen
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All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
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