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Talk: Mass surveillance and a crisis of social responsibility

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A critic of mass surveillance and pioneering computer scientist whose work has contributed to reducing the risk of cyber-attack will give a public lecture at the University of Auckland next week.

A critic of mass surveillance and pioneering computer scientist whose work has contributed to reducing the risk of cyber-attack will give a public lecture at the University of Auckland next week.

Professor Phillip Rogaway is a researcher in cryptography in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis. Cryptography is the computerised encoding and decoding of information to securely transmit data online.

He will discuss ethical issues of mass surveillance activity carried out by the United States government as revealed by former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Professor Rogaway asks why computer scientists, who developed the technology for mass data-gathering, have not more strongly condemned it.

"Why is there not a stronger sense of social responsibility among scientists and engineers?" he says. "I believe it is important for scientists and technologists to take a public stance when important social and ethical matters intersect our work."

Professor Rogaway was among a group of leading academics who last year signed an open letter to the United States government criticising mass surveillance and calling for more open scrutiny of the way personal data is collected. The letter was published in leading US technology news site wired.com.

He says the United States government has engaged in deliberate and covert weakening of internet security standards, including applying pressure on US technology companies to hand over users’ private data.

Professor Rogaway did his undergraduate study at UC Berkeley and his PhD at MIT where he was a member of the Theory of Computation Group. He next worked at IBM as a Security Architect where he became interested in the problem of developing foundations for cryptography that would be useful, and used, for cryptographic practice.

In 2009 he was awarded the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award for his work in adapting modern cryptographic theory to make it more applicable for reducing the risk of cyber-attack.

Professor Rogaway is the International Association for Cryptologic Research Distinguished Lecturer for 2015 and is coming to New Zealand on a University of Auckland Distinguished Visitor Award.

This free public lecture on 9 December 2015 is at 6.30pm in the Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, Auckland. Lecture Theatre OGGB 3/260-092 (Level 0).

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