Technology writer and advocate Cory Doctorow to speak at the U

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Photo credit to Jonathan Worth

Very few people stop to think before entering their name, date of birth and other personal information when signing up for a free Internet service. Cory Doctorow, a Canadian-British science-fiction novelist and blogger, believes we probably should.

Doctorow is speaking at the Gould Auditorium in the Marriott Library on April 5 at 6:30 p.m. His talk, entitled “Security, Privacy, and Surveillance: Damn Right You Have Something to Hide (And Everything to Fear),” will focus on current issues of technology and privacy, such as encryption and digital content laws, said Matthew Potolsky, a professor in the English department. The event is free to the public, but you must reserve tickets through the College of Humanities website.

Potolsky chose to bring in Doctorow because privacy is a relevant topic to this generation. Last year, during Secrecy Week, Potolsky invited Glenn Greenwald to speak about his experience breaking the Edward Snowden leaks. Potolsky hopes that Doctorow’s speech can help students, faculty and community members take control of the technology they use.

“What he brings to the table is a really good knowledge of how technology works and a really great ability to teach people how to make use of them,” Potolsky said. “You don’t have to be a passive user of your technology.”

Doctorow is well-known for his advocacy of technology and is co-editor of weblog Boing Boing. He is an author of young adult novels and nonfiction books and is a contributing writer to The Guardian, Wired, The Boston Globe and other media outlets.

With privacy issues in the news, such as the FBI breaking Apple’s encryption on a terrorist’s phone, Potolsky said this is a topic for everyone, especially students.

Doctorow’s speech will be followed by a question and answer session, and he will also visit Potolsky’s class about secrecy and a class in the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program.

Along with encryption, Potolsky predicts Doctorow will speak about his opposition to digital rights management software. Doctorow advocates for public access to creative works, including his own books, which are free for download.

Potolsky said there is a lot to be learned from this discussion, and this generation really needs to understand what they are doing.

“Everybody knows that they are sharing information about themselves,” Potolsky said. “But, the extent to which that information can go and be used for purposes that you don’t understand, know about, and you might not agree to, is quite frightening.”

In addition to EAE, the Doctorow event is getting support from the Marriott Library, ASUU, the College of Humanities, the Communication Institute, the departments of English and Communication, and XMission.

c.webber@dailyutahchronicle.com

@carolynwebber

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