We're excited to have yet another "At Home with the EFF" event coming up this Wednesday, February 3rd, with panels making sense of all the online censorship issues emerging this year. From the takedown of Parler to Trump getting banned, we'll offer an insider look on how censorship decisions are made, and how they affect all Internet users. This time we'll start with a discussion on internet infrastructure companies featuring special guests Mike Masnick (Copia Institute) and Tarleton Gillespie (Microsoft's Social Media Collective). The panel will go over the legal rights these companies have to refuse their service, but also the risks this carries when they coordinate to take certain speech offline all together. We'll then be joined by Charlotte Willner and Adelin Cai from Trust & Safety Professional Association to talk about the important and evolving role content moderation has played in the last decade and moving forward.
In case you missed it, our previous virtual event—"At Home (and On Campus) with EFF"—featured discussions of the many concerns being raised by students, workers and workers, and community groups over how their colleges have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with invasive technologies. After a stirring introduction from Cory Doctorow , our first panel then featured EFF's Directory of Technology Projects, Jon Callas, and Grassroots Advocacy Organizer, Rory Mir, discussing the invasive potential of COVID-tech on campus, and why we are calling for leadership on campus to take the University App Mandate Pledge and commit to privacy and transparency on campus.
We were then joined by Ana Mendoza, Staff Attorney with the ACLU's Education Equity Team, and Project Manager for EFF's Activism Team, Lindsay Oliver, for a panel on the adoption of online proctoring tools as colleges come to rely more on remote instruction. This panel not only discussed how these technologies can be invasive to students privacy, but perpetuate existing inequalities in higher education. In this discussion, Ana gave a succinct explanation of why getting surveillance out of schools is so vital:
It just harms school climate. Research shows that establishing trusting and caring relationships among the school community is one of the most effective ways to improve school safety and promote a positive school climate. So when you have online online monitoring programs, and students know that they're being spied on, it just erodes that trust that is such a necessary element in promoting safe and welcoming schools. It sends the signal "we don't trust you" and "you are not in a safe environment, so we have to monitor everyone." Psychologically this software, and other types of surveillance technology, really is just an assault on the type of positive school climate that students deserve and are entitled to.