Lessons from Edward Snowden

Professor Alastair Irons from the University of Sunderland will present the Department of Computer Science colloquium with a talk entitled, "Lessons from Edward Snowden".

 The series of events surrounding Edward Snowden has brought to the attention of society a set of serious problems in the way that data and information is collected, collated, managed and used in the public and private sector. One of the obvious concerns is the “Big Brother” role of government in data management and use. The scale of the domain brings into play Big Data, Data Science, Open Data as well as Computer Science and the broader computing disciplines.

This talk will explore some of the issues that come to light when examining the sequence of events surrounding the Edward Snowden situation. Snowden’s disclosure in 2013 brought to the public attention a subject of great controversy. Snowden has been categorized from a public hero and patriot to a whistleblower through to a dissident and traitor. In this talk the speak will examine these classifications. Irrespective of the position taken on evaluating Snowden’s actions it is clear that there has been a great amount of discussion and debate in a range of subjects as a result – including consideration of data in national security, mass surveillance, government management of data, information governance, information privacy, data ethics and public awareness and interest in data.

The Snowden case opens a series of multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary issues and concerns and these will be discussed throughout this talk. As well as the Snowden case being scenario that encompasses computer science, computer forensics, computer security, computer ethics and professionalism in computing there are many other academic disciplines that become part of the case and need to be taken into account when considering the impact of the Snowden scenario. Disciplines including law, sociology, criminology, philosophy, economics, politics, geography and history all add to the deconstruction of the problem and indeed become an integral part to the understanding of the problem.

For the computer forensics / computer security disciplines in the computing family of programmes the Snowden case offer the opportunity to study a complex situation in a live and on-going environment. At the author’s university the Snowden case forms part of the coverage of “Hactivism” and the concept of breaking current laws for ideological beliefs.

In this talk the issues raised by the Snowden case will be presented and discussed from a computing perspective and also take into account the inter disciplinary and multi disciplinary aspects of the scenario. The talk will conclude with a consideration of the lessons learned from the Snowden case and what we can do for the future as a result.

Alastair is a Professor of Computer Science in the Department in the Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology (CET) at the University of Sunderland – where his subject interests focus on computer forensics and cyber security. From 2008 to 2014 he was Head of Department in CET. Prior to joining the University in September 2008 he worked at ONE North East, Northumbria University and ICI having moved to the north east from Scotland after graduating in 1984 from Edinburgh University. Alastair became a National Teaching Fellow in 2010. He serves on the management board of DYNAMO, the management board of Digital Leaders North East, the Advisory Board of the North East Digital Catapult and on the management board of the North East Fraud Forum, is chair of the BCS Academic Accreditation Committee, sits on the BCS Academy Board, is chair of the BCS Cybercrime Forensics Special Interest Group and has recently been elected chair of the BCS NE England branch. Previously he chaired the Learning Development Group for the CPHC and sat on the CPHC management committee.

Alastair’s current teaching focuses on computer forensics, digital forensics and cyber security. Alastair’s research interests focus on digital forensics – currently looking at methods for digital investigations in “big data”, measurement metrics in the Criminal Justice System, digital investigations in journalism, gender issues in cybersecurity, as well as the role of computer forensics in South Africa. He is also active in research in academic and pedagogic issues in higher education with particular interest in student assessment and feedback. He has recently published books on Formative Feedback and on Learning and Teaching issues in Computing. He is currently leading a research project on Problem Based Learning in Cybersecurity.

Date: 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 13:00
Venue: 

Computer Science Lecture Theatre 302, Upper Campus, UCT

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