Government Surveillance, Elections Under Attack, and Gen Z’s Political Revolution: Cities, Government & Politics Track Sessions for SXSW 2019

The Cities, Government & Politics track will explore topics like livable cities and the future of urban planning, civic engagement; government’s intersection with tech innovation and data tracking, and privacy/security concerns.

“As citizens that participate in many aspects of society, understanding how to navigate the various systems and rules that govern how we live our daily lives. My hope is that this programming helps educate attendees on different areas of government, inspire people to engage in the process, and how to create positive change for the communities in which we live,” says SXSW Senior Programming Advancement Manager Monica Sack.

Attend Cities, Government & Politics Track sessions to learn about topics like the future of government surveillance, the CIA’s approach to problem-solving, election manipulation, and more. Cities, Government & Politics Track sessions take place March 8-11 with primary access for all Badgeholders.

Cities, Government & Politics Session Highlights

The Future of Government Surveillance in the US

Speakers: Hasan Ali (Microsoft), Jerrold Nadler (US House of Representatives), Chan Park (Monument Policy Group), and Neema Singh Guliani (American Civil Liberties Union)

In 2015 Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act – the most significant reform of surveillance laws in decades. Some say it didn't go far enough to constrain the NSA; others say it went too far. The law expires in December 2019 and Congress will be spending 2019 deciding whether to renew it, change it, or just let it sunset. Join the debate with a key Member of Congress and representatives from the government, tech industry, and the privacy advocacy community. We will discuss: (1) what is likely to happen with the USA FREEDOM Act and the related NSA surveillance programs; (2) what other reforms Congress may be considering; and most importantly, (3) what is the future of government surveillance in the US, given the new technologies, platforms, and services that are constantly developing?

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Generation Z Is Poised to Revolutionize Politics

Speakers: John Gerzema (The Harris Poll) Stef Kight (Axios), Nadya Okamoto (PERIOD), and Ethan Sonneborn

Gen Zers are tired of waiting for their elders to fix things; they are disillusioned with politics today and big government and are stepping in to solve social issues themselves. By becoming political leaders and activists, they are taking charge and disrupting politics with demands for new policies. What has forced Gen Zers to take on the mantle of leadership so young? How does this affect their coming of age? What changes are they seeking and why? This panel will answer these questions and uncover findings from The Harris Poll's new study with Axios, titled “The Z-Ruption Report”. It is the first of its kind peer-to-peer generational survey, in which we asked Gen Zers about their political participation and activism and how they hope to influence government today.

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Wombats & Wood Ducks: CIA’s Secrets to Creative Problem Solving

Speakers: Jacob Eastham (Central Intelligence Agency) and Nyssa Straatveit (Central Intelligence Agency)

Your creativity has been undercover--let us help you expose your potential! We all face difficult challenges in our work and the Central Intelligence Agency is no different. Under the constraints of stress, deadlines, and routine work, creative thinking becomes a luxury. Thanks to in-house training developed over the last 12 years, when CIA officers are called to solve hard intelligence problems, they have the knowledge and tools to reveal their creativity. This presentation will share examples of creative problem solving in CIA history and introduce four techniques that attendees can use to increase their own solution-generating power.

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Bad Guys Attacking Elections: It's Not Just the US

Speakers: Graham Brookie (Atlantic Council), Katie Harbath (Facebook), Kevin Roose (The New York Times), Moira Whelan (Blue Dot Strategies)

We know bad guys are continuing to use social media tools to exploit divisions and undermine elections in the US. We have seen their handiwork in France, Mexico, Germany and other places. Between now and SXSW we will see elections not just in the United States but in Brazil and Georgia where on-line manipulation of opinion is already a big problem. When we meet, elections in Indonesia, India and Europe will be just around the corner. Panelists will talk about where things stand, explore what's working and what's not from the perspective of the world's largest social media platform, the media, and a think tank working to create a network of experts to combat the issue. We'll look at ways to close the information gap among government, tech, and media on these collective challenges.

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Old Men Yell at (the) Cloud: Congress and Tech

Speakers: Zach Graves (Lincoln Network), Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Media), Jessica Rosenworcel (Federal Communications Commission) and Mark Takano (US House of Representatives)

This year’s Facebook hearings made clear how powerful new technologies are, and how important it is for our elected officials to have an understanding of their basic mechanics. The public was outraged at Facebook for not protecting their personal data, but members on both side of the aisle didn’t seem up to the task of questioning Mark Zuckerberg. Unfortunately, data privacy seems to be only the latest technical topic that Congress has struggled with. So, while Congress considers future steps to take on technical issues, Congress should reinstate its own think tank of engineers that used to advise them on emerging technology: The Office of Technology Assessment. Join us to discuss this plan and others ways to address Congress’ technical gap.

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Browse All Cities, Government & Politics Sessions

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Purchase your SXSW Badge and reserve your hotel today to experience these sessions along with 10 days of screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking, and more this March 9-18 in Austin, TX.

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2018 SXSW Featured Speaker Ezra Klein - Photo by Kara Mosher

By Hayden Bagot