March 6, 2012 | By Parker Higgins and Jillian York

EFF Takes Austin: Our Picks for SXSW

This weekend kicks off one of EFF's favorite events: South by Southwest (SXSW). This year, in addition to a number of exciting panels, the EFF team will also be having a party! We’re all really excited to see you there, and hope that you’ll stop by our Trade Show booth (#723) to learn more about our work and pick up some swag.

In addition to the panels featuring members of the EFF team outlined below, we've also dug through the schedule to find a few gems that EFF fans will love. Read on for more details…

EFFers take Austin!

EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry will be joining a panel entitled “Fighting for Your Users Without Becoming a Target.”  The four-person paneltargeted at online service providers (OSPs)will tackle the question of how OSPs can earn users’ loyalty and fight for their rights while avoiding legal pitfalls. Saturday, March 10, 3:30-4:30pm, Omni Downtown (Capital Ballroom).

Legal director Cindy Cohn will be debating Colette Vogle on a topic that’s been on our minds a lot this past year: whether or not social sites like Facebook and Google+ should allow anonymous users. Saturday, March 10, 11:00am-12:00pm, Omni Downtown (Longhorn).

Cindy will also be moderating a panel on the emerging phenomenon of online review sites for medical professionals. Her panel will explore the legal rules that affect this new space, the ethical obligations of healthcare providers, and the innovative practices being developed in response. Sunday, March 11, 3:30-4:30pm, AT&T Conference Hotel (Classroom 204).

EFF Activist Eva Galperin, along with Twitter’s John Adams, will be discussing the hot topic of security and privacy on social networks.  The discussionalso geared toward technology companieswill tackle best practices for protecting both one’s company and users. Sunday, March 11, 5:00-6:00pm, Omni Downtown (Lone Star).

Building on our ample work in this space, two EFF staffers will join a panel entitled “When Copyright Trolls Attack!” Activist Parker Higgins and IP Attorney Mitch Stoltz will bring EFF’s expertise on the subject to the discussion of this growing phenomenon. Saturday, March 10, 9:30-10:30am, Sheraton Austin (Capitol EFGH).

EFF's Director for International Freedom of Expression will speak on a panel targeted at OSPs entitled “How to Run a Social Site and Not Get Users Killed.”  Including, among others, EFF alum and current Internet Advocacy Coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists Danny O’Brien, the panel will cover a range of issues related to user safety on social networks. Sunday, March 11, 12:30-1:30pm, AT&T Conference Hotel (Salon D).

Julie Samuels, an EFF Staff Attorney, will be discussing software patents. Julie’s work on patent trolls has been widely cited over the past year and will round out the panel as she discusses an emerging trend of suing startups over patents. Tuesday, March 13, 11:00am-12:00pm, Hilton Austin Downtown (Salon C). In addition, Julie has joined a panel entitled "Getting Off the SOPA Box," discussing, amongst other things, why the activism around SOPA and PIPA was so successful.

Bonus: Julie will also be sticking around for SXSW Music this year to talk about strategies for using free content to promote and maximize the benefits of alternative revenue streams on a panel entitled “Set Your Content Free (It's Harder Than You Think)”.

EFF Recommends…

In addition to our own panels, we’ve curated a small (and by no means comprehensive) list of panels featuring EFF allies and friends, or simply EFF-relevant subjects. On a panel you think we should know about?  Drop us a linewe’d love to attend!


Several EFF friends come together on a panel entitled “Principles and Practices for Privacy by Design,” targeting companies with a talk on how to incorporate Privacy by Design into one’s product. Monday, March 12, 11:00am-12:00pm, Austin Convention Center (Ballroom BC).

Our friends at WITNESS and The Guardian Project will be hosting a discussion on the ethics of mobile face tagging, sharing their ideas and tools. Monday, March 12, 11:00am-12:00pm, Hilton Austin Downtown (Salon J).

Join us in attending a lively discussion—sponsored by CNet—entitled “Big Data: Privacy Threat or Business Model?” that will tackle the pros and cons of data-based innovation. Sunday, March 11, 5:00-6:00pm, Omni Downtown (Longhorn).

Our friends at the ACLU have put together two panels related to privacy.  Chris Conley will lead a discussion on mobile privacy geared at developers (Tuesday, March 13, 12:30-1:30pm, Austin Convention Center Ballroom A), while Nicole Ozer will join a four-person panel discussing how to make privacy decisions that are good for the company’s bottom line (Saturday, March 10, 9:30-10:30am, Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon FG).

Bonus: Nicole will also be doing a book signing for her new book, Privacy & Free Speech: It’s Good for Business. Saturday, March 10, 11:00-11:15am, Austin Convention Center (Ballroom G Foyer).

Digital Activism

Complementary to Jillian York’s panel is one entitled “How Not to Die: Using Tech in a Dictatorship,” in which several friends of EFF will present concrete examples from several countries to educate activists and changemakers on how to protect their rights and safety while using new technologies. Monday, March 12, 9:30-10:30am, Austin Convention Center (Room 9ABC).

Taking apart one trope that has framed discussion of the so-called Arab Spring, one panel featuring EFF friends will discuss “Internet Power: After Cyber-Optimism and Pessimism,” tackling the disruptive power of the Internet worldwide. Sunday, March 11, 11:00am-12:00pm, AT&T Conference Hotel (Salon E).

A number of EFF friends will share a panel on the “tech tools to topple a tyrant” to discuss how revolutionaries utilize social media and what tools would-be activists should include in her toolkit. Monday, March 12, 12:30pm-1:30pm, Austin Convention Center (Room 9ABC).

US Department of State Senior Advisor for Innovation Alec Ross—who has worked directly on the department’s Net Freedom initiative—will give a solo talk on “How 21st Century Tools Are Disrupting Global Power,” “from the perspective of the apex of traditional power structure.” Friday, March 9, 2:00-3:00pm, Hilton Austin Downtown (Salon J).

EFF friends from FreePress and Access will join a panel entitled “Your iPhone is Political: Mobile Democracy,” to deliberate on how we use mobile devices, how carriers and the public are fighting for control over them, and how good policies can protect consumers from wireless carrier abuse.  Monday, March 12, 9:30-10:30am, Hilton Austin Downtown (Salon J).

Copyright and Fair Use

A group of EFF allies will hold a session on SOPA and PIPA entitled “Why the Open Internet Needs Us.” As the description notes, SOPA and PIPA might be dead for now, but “we’re just at the beginning of a much longer battle.”  This panel will broach the question of why we should care. Saturday, March 10, 11:00am-12:00pm, AT&T Conference Hotel (Salon C).

Friend of EFF Kirby Ferguson, the filmmaker behind the popular "Everything is a Remix" video series, is teaming up with writer and artist Austin Kleon to talk about remix culture and being a creator in the digital age. Saturday, March 10, 12:30-1:30pm, Austin Convention Center (Room 18ABCD).

"Beyond SOPA/PIPA: Moving forward with Engine Advocacy" takes a look at the past and future of online advocacy in the wake of the massive organizing that occurred around the copyright bills. Saturday, March 10, 5:00-6:00pm, AT&T Conference Hotel (Salon C).

Another, interactive, workshop“class participation will be encouraged and rewarded”dubbed “WTFair Use?!” will educate participants on what they need to know about fair use and licensing. Monday, March 12, 3:30-4:30pm, Austin Convention Center (Room 13AB).

Bonus: There will be a SOPA/PIPA/ACTA meetup/open discussion hosted by the Future of Music Coalition. Monday, March 12, 11:00am-12:00pm, Hyatt Regency Austin (Big Bend). And right after that, our friends at the independent civil liberties organization EFF-Austin will be discussing a variety of EFF-relevant issues. Monday, March 12, 12:30-1:30pm, Hyatt Regency Austin (Big Bend).

Of course, you don't want to forget to RSVP for our SXSW party on March 13 @ Six Lounge for great live music and drinks (many thanks to our sponsors!) and drop by Trade Show booth #723 (between Monday, March 12 and Thursday, March 15) to pick up a brand-new EFF t-shirt or become a supporting member. Looking forward to seeing you in Austin!

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