Call for Papers: “Governing Intelligence in the Digital Age” Sponsored by Stanford Journal on International Law

The Stanford Journal on International Law has a call for papers for an upcoming conference entitled “Governing Intelligence in the Digital Age.”

Governing Intelligence

in the Digital Age

May 2-3, 2014 at Stanford Law School



In the aftermath of former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures about the scale of the NSA’s electronic surveillance operations, the recurrent dispute over the post-9/11 boundaries of the national security state is once again in full swing.

In the United States, the revelations have brought to the fore concerns ranging from the so-called balance between national security and privacy to the proper degree of judicial and congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community.  Legislators, academics, and commentators have put forward various proposals to rein in intelligence including, most prominently, calls for greater transparency in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  As a result, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has pledged to conduct a “total review” of all intelligence programs.

Across the Atlantic, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into the legality of the alleged electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens.  The EP has also called for the suspension of the US-EU Agreement concerning the US Department of the Treasury’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), which is meant to facilitate the transatlantic exchange of financial data for counterterrorism purposes.  Although the EP lacks formal authority to suspend the agreement, its forceful response may be indicative of the EU’s considerable concern for privacy, which may also be at work in its robust data protection regime.


Governing Intelligence in the Digital Age


As Mr. Snowden’s disclosures demonstrate, advances in information technology such as the rise of Big Data — the increased capacity to collect, store, and analyze vast amounts of data, along with the concomitant explosion in data production — have markedly enhanced the ability of governments to conduct intelligence gathering.


On the one hand, an enhanced intelligence gathering capacity bodes well for national security — from predictive policing to the tracking of terrorist financing, “Intelligence 2.0” increases the state’s ability to counter and disrupt the next generation of transnational threats.  On the other hand, the expansive scale of intelligence gathering in the Digital Age risks undermining everything from civil liberties to Internet freedom.  Given the inherent risk of abuse and the vulnerability of information systems to cyber-warfare, the challenges of intelligence governance in the Digital Age cannot be overestimated.


Governing Intelligence will bring together academics, policymakers, business leaders, and civil society groups where it all began — Silicon Valley — to analyze the challenges of intelligence governance in the Digital Age from a comparative and international perspective.


Symposium Call for Papers


The Stanford Journal of International Law (SJIL) seeks contributions by academics, practitioners, and policymakers in the form of approx. 15,000-word scholarly essays or policy white papers from a comparative or international perspective on the following broad topics: (1) Intelligence Governance & the National Security State; (2) Law Enforcement & Intelligence Gathering; (3) Electronic Surveillance & the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age; and, (4) Transnational Threats & Intelligence Cooperation.


The following is a non-exhaustive list of questions and sub-topics meant to provide guidance on the kinds of submissions we are looking for.  Preference will be given to interdisciplinary submissions and submissions that incorporate both descriptive and normative analyses.


  1. Intelligence Governance & the National Security State:
    1. What kinds of oversight and accountability mechanisms do liberal democracies employ to check the power of intelligence agencies?  Can best practices be identified?
    2. How should legal frameworks, including oversight and accountability mechanisms, adapt to technology-enabled enhancements in the power of intelligence agencies?
    3. Law Enforcement & Intelligence Gathering:
      1. What safeguards should law enforcement agencies in liberal democracies adopt to prevent the abuse of predictive policing, biometrics, and other technology-enabled enhancements?  Can emerging best practices be identified?
      2. What are the arguments for and against the separation between intelligence gathering and law enforcement?  To the extent that barriers between the two have been eliminated in a particular system, what lessons can be learned from the experience and what safeguards should be in place to prevent abuse?
      3. Electronic Surveillance & the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age:
        1. How do municipal and international law differ with regards to a right to privacy?  Must foreign intelligence gathering comply with a binding international human right to privacy?
        2. What explains the differences between data protection regimes among liberal democracies?  How may private actors become liable for violations of foreign data privacy regimes?  How may compliance with national security laws trigger violations of data protection regimes?
        3. Transnational Threats & Intelligence Cooperation:
          1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of bilateral or multilateral intelligence sharing agreements in fighting transnational threats such as drug trafficking, terrorism and terrorist financing, and weapons proliferation?  Can best practices be identified?
          2. To what extent should international organizations or mechanisms such as the United Nations Security Council intelligence gathering capabilities?  How can such capabilities help address or prevent transnational threats?  How may technological advances promote or hinder multilateral intelligence gathering?


Submissions Mechanics and Timeline


Please send a 1-2 page abstract outlining your essay or white paper in Word format, a C.V. of the author(s), and point of contact information to by 11:59PM PST on January 31, 2014.


Decisions will be released by February 15, 2014 and selected contributors must commit to present their work at the SJIL Symposium on May 2-3, 2014.  A draft presentation paper will be due by April 20, 2014.


Final drafts of approx. 15,000 words must be submitted for publication by August 15, 2014.  Subject to customary editorial standards, the selected contributions will be published in Issue 51.1 of SJIL, which is scheduled for publication in January 2015.


Travel and Accommodation Expenses


We anticipate paying reasonable round-trip domestic coach airfare and providing hotel accommodation for presenters.

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