2021 NAAG 2021 Eastern Region Meeting on the Economics of Surveillance | Man’s pepper with trout

NAAG Eastern Region Meeting 2021
The Economics of Surveillance: How Attorneys General Protect
Confidentiality, security and equality in the information age
October 7-8, 2021 | Burlington, Vermont

Summary of the conference

Speakers at this conference discussed how regulators and law enforcement could help protect privacy and security – while preventing discrimination – in an ever-changing digital world. They addressed important and current issues, including:

  • the inability of laws and regulations to keep up with changing technology;
  • the need for government officials to take the lead – rather than Big Tech;
  • the need to protect children on the Internet;
  • potential racial disparities in algorithms; and
  • that algorithms maximize clicks and revenue rather than privacy and security.

Opening remarks

Panelists / Speakers

TJ Donovan (Vermont Attorney General and NAAG Eastern Region Chairman)


Attorney General Donovan illustrated how technology surpassed the law using a shopping story from his childhood, while asking two important questions to answer. First, can the law keep pace with technology? Second, what does privacy mean in the digital age?

Cat by the fireside

Panelists / Speakers

Kashmir Hill (The New York Times, tech reporter)
Karl Racine (District of Columbia Attorney General)

The description

New York Times tech reporter Kashmir Hill and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine discussed the profound and often unforeseen ways new and emerging technologies are changing our concepts of privacy and impacting our lives.

The Supreme Court and the evolution of legal principles of
Privacy, AI and racial disparities

Panelists / Speakers

Maura Healey (Attorney General of Massachusetts) (Moderator)
Heidi Li Feldman (professor, law and philosophy, Georgetown)
Katherine Forrest (Partner, Litigation, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP)

The description

Panelists examined how new technologies hold the promise of improving social well-being, while exacerbating existing social inequalities and prejudices. They also discussed how state attorneys general should understand how states use technology and ensure that the public they serve are not oppressed by it.

The economics of surveillance

Panelists / Speakers

William Tong (Attorney General of Connecticut) (moderator)
Sara Cable (Chief, Privacy and Data Security, Massachusetts AG Office)
Shawn Davis (Director of Digital Forensics, Edelson PC)
Clare Garvie (Senior Partner, Center on Privacy & Technology, Georgetown)
Maureen Mahoney (Senior Policy Analyst, Consumer Reports)

The description

Using Professor Shoshanna Zuboff’s historical economic concept – surveillance capitalism – as the basis for this discussion, these speakers analyzed how this emerging economic reality claims “human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data” and has an impact on our daily life. They also discussed how regulators and authorities can use their powers to protect the privacy and autonomy of individuals.

Main speaker


Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) (House Committee on Energy and Trade)[1]

The description

Welch provided his perspective on how Congress can strike an appropriate balance between regulation and innovation.

Privacy in the Information Age:
Legislative and policy approaches

Panelists / Speakers

Letitia James (New York Attorney General) (moderator)
Pam Dixon (Executive Director, World Privacy Forum)
Tom Galvin (Executive Director, Digital Citizens Alliance)
Tim Sparapani (Founder, Strategic Government Relations Council)
Jennifer Urban (Professor and President of Berkley, California Privacy Protection Agency)

The description

Panelists examined how the adoption of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2016, followed by California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018, ushered in a new era of rights to life private for personal information. They also discussed new and innovative legislative and policy approaches to improve privacy in the digital age and the prospects for a comprehensive federal privacy bill becoming law.

What is the next step for law enforcement:
Cryptocurrency and public protection

Panelists / Speakers

TJ Donovan (Vermont AG and NAAG Eastern Region Chair) (Moderator)
JC Boggs (co-head of FinTech and State AG, King and Spalding practices)
Hester Peirce (Commissioner, US Securities and Exchange Commission)
Bob Seeman (Managing Partner, CyberCurb)
Brian Quintenz (Commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission)

The description

These experts discussed the development of regulatory frameworks, emerging consumer protection issues and the challenges and opportunities of the new digital economy regarding cryptocurrency.

[1] Welch has served in the US House of Representatives since 2006. He sits on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

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