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Law professor creates privacy-focused conference

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Najarian Peters

LAWRENCE – A new conference created by a privacy law scholar at the University of Kansas School of Law aims to explore privacy beyond abstract concepts.

Najarian Peters, associate professor at the KU School of Law, said the inaugural Privacy Praxis Conference will explore the broad spectrum of privacy expertise. The term “praxis” comes from the combination of theory and practice, Peters said.

“When we think about privacy expertise, we’re saying that this is not just scholarship — it is also inclusive of advocacy and community work that lives in the world,” Peters said.

The conference will highlight expertise in privacy by academic scholars as well as those with expertise outside of the formal academy.

The Privacy Praxis Conference, themed “The Bridge: How Does Your Scholarship/Work Live in This World?” will run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 25 via Zoom. The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required. Registration closes Feb. 22.

The program will feature two panel discussions and a keynote presentation by Anita Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

The KU School of Law is sponsoring the conference. Collaborators include the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where Peters is a second-year faculty associate, and the nonprofit research organization Data & Society.

Peters began working on Privacy Praxis after reflecting on her experiences attending other privacy conferences.

“I started thinking about how privacy conferences are structured and their approach to recognizing what privacy expertise is, and how that can be a barrier to a thicker conceptualization of privacy, how that can be exclusionary, how it creates and replicates echo chambers, and how all of that instills stagnation and gatekeeping,” Peters said. “When we really think about the work of privacy, those are things that are not conducive to privacy as a social good.”

Along with discussing privacy in its real-world applications, the Privacy Praxis Conference will serve as a platform for new ideas about privacy that are “restorative, liberative and have an anti-subordination ethos,” Peters said.

“We are centering a perspective that asserts that the communities who experience real-world impacts of privacy violations – violations that usually reinforce subordination – are at the vanguard of creating authentic solutions and new approaches to respond to those violations,” Peters said.

In addition to the conference, Peters plans to grow Privacy Praxis to include a journal and opportunities for privacy experts to publish their work.

Peters joined the KU law school faculty in July 2020 and will create two new privacy law courses, as well as teach torts for the law school. Her scholarship focuses on privacy law, technology policy and governance.

Peters was previously the inaugural faculty fellow and assistant professor of law at the Institute for Privacy Protection at Seton Hall Law School. Before entering academia, Peters practiced for more than a decade as a corporate compliance and privacy officer at several organizations in the public and private sectors.

Photo credit: Earl Richardson.