A Gathering of the Minds

Sponsored by the Mensa Education & Research Foundation, this one-day educational symposium provides a forum for Mensans and the general public to explore, debate, and evaluate a major issue of long-range importance to society.

A Gathering of the Minds


July 2, 2019
8:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Members: $99 | Nonmembers: $124

Mensa Foundation Colloquium 2019
Privacy in the 21st Century: Mystery or Myth?

Society has worked to strike an acceptable balance between personal privacy and public security as long as the two concepts have existed. The debate has intensified in this era of mass surveillance, internet-connected frying pans, and GPS-enabled computers in the pockets of most Americans. Public knowledge and legal opinion struggle to keep up, and we’re left to wonder what privacy looks like in the 21st century.

Colloquium 2019 will explore how privacy rights have been transformed in the digital age and how they may yet change. We’ll examine the inherent intertwine of privacy rights and information technology, including how governments, marketers, and political data firms collect, store, and use what the world’s largest privately held software business calls the “ever-increasing volume, velocity, variety, variability and complexity of information.” We’ll ask how legislative actions will affect the role of tech companies in government surveillance. And with new technology platforms poised to change the way data ownership works, we’ll explore how those smart products may affect Fourth Amendment limits of the third-party doctrine.

colloquium Presenters

Orin Kerr

Orin Kerr headshotOrin Kerr is one of the country’s foremost scholars on cybercrime law and criminal procedure, an expert in internet surveillance law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Fourth Amendment.

He has briefed and argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and seven of his law review articles have been cited in Supreme Court opinions. He has been cited in more than 250 other judicial opinions and more than 3,000 academic articles.

Kerr has testified six times before Congressional committees. In 2013, Chief Justice Roberts appointed him to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In 2015, the Chief Justice again appointed him to serve on the Judicial Conference’s committee to review the Criminal Justice Act.

Currently the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Distinguished Professor of Law at the USC Gould School of Law, he previously taught at George Washington University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Read Orin’s work at The Volokh Conspiracy, Lawfare, or SSRN, or follow him on Twitter @OrinKerr.

Danny O’Brien

Danny O'Brien headshotDanny O’Brien, a longtime activist for online free speech and privacy, is the International Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leading digital civil liberties organization.

In the United Kingdom, where O’Brien lives, he fought against repressive anti-encryption law and helped make Parliament more transparent with the FaxYourMP initiative. He also co-founded the Open Rights Group, Britain’s own digital civil liberties organization.

O’Brien, who also worked for the Committee to Protect Journalists, began his career as a technology journalist, writing for the Sunday Times, Irish Times and The Guardian.

Read O’Brien’s work at EFF’s Deeplinks Blog or follow him on Twitter @mala.

Alison Pepper

Alison Pepper headshotAlison Pepper currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Government Relations at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) in Washington, D.C. In that role she works with regulators, legislators, and cross-industry stakeholders on issues of importance to the advertising community.

She focuses on public policy issues that exist at the intersection of privacy, technology, media, and data. In her 13 years working in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, she’s worked on these issues from multiple angles representing thousands of companies.

Prior to her current role, she served as the Assistant General Counsel and Senior Director of Public Policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau based out of their Washington, D.C., and San Francisco offices.

Alison is a native of Georgia. She holds a bachelor’s from the University of Georgia and a J.D. from Georgia State University. She is an avid outdoors person.

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis headshotWendy Davis, a journalist in New York City, writes about law, technology, and business. She serves as policy editor at MediaPost, where she covers online privacy and other issues affecting the advertising and media industries.

She has also written for The Boston Globe, The New York Post, Crain’s New York, Advertising Age, the American Bar Association Journal, Legal Affairs magazine, and other publications.

Wendy has moderated panels and participated in discussions about privacy for MediaPost, Mozilla, the University of Pennsylvania, and the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Her pieces about privacy are available at MediaPost. Follow Wendy on Twitter @wendyndavis.

Gabe Rottman

Gabe Rottman headshotGabe Rottman is a senior attorney at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C., where he directs the Technology and Press Freedom Project, a new initiative that combines law, policy analysis, and public education to address emerging issues at the intersection of technology and press freedom, such as reporter-source protections, content regulation online, and how computer crime law could apply to data journalism.

Prior to joining the Reporters Committee, Rottman opened the first Washington office for PEN America, led efforts on cybersecurity law and policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and directed federal legislative and regulatory advocacy on the First Amendment for the American Civil Liberties Union. After law school, Rottman practiced as a commercial litigator at Simpson Thacher and Bartlett in Washington, D.C., with a focus on national security regulations and antitrust. Before and during law school, Rottman worked on federal political advocacy for the ACLU as a consultant, communications staffer, and senior writer.

Rottman was a 2017 fellow in the Center for Strategic & International Studies Fellowship in Advanced Cyber Studies, has testified in front of Congress on First Amendment issues, and is the author of a comprehensive historical survey at RCFP of every federal investigation and prosecution related to the leak of government information. Rottman has a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s from McGill University in political science and history. Follow Gabe on Twitter @gabe_rottman.