A Trans-Atlantic Town Hall Dialogue with Germans on Data Privacy

By Benjamin Wittes
Monday, March 7, 2016, 6:01 AM

Last month, I was asked to participate in a genuinely unusual radio experiment: a trans-Atlantic town hall meeting hosted by PRI's America Abroad simultaenously in Austin Texas and Berlin. The subject was data privacy.

Here's how the show describes it:

The fight between Apple and the FBI over whether or not an iPhone should be unlocked to better solve the San Bernardino shooting, underscores a larger international debate over the trade-offs between national security and individual privacy rights.

Just before the FBI-Apple dispute erupted, America Abroad convened an international town hall that brought together cybersecurity, policy and law experts along with privacy activists and business representatives in two locations — Austin, Texas and Berlin, Germany.

In this episode, America Abroad features a transatlantic discussion about the promise and peril of encryption; examines how governments, corporations, and law enforcement try to manage big data, privacy, and security; and hears from individuals on their surprising revelations about their own data.

Sitting next to me in the studio in Austin was Kristen Eichensehr of UCLA Law School, and in the studio—thanks to Bobby Chesney—were many of the participants in a cybersecurity conference he was hosting concurrently. I tried to be, uh, provocative. I haven't yet listened to the edited version of the discussions to see if my interventions made it onto the show.