The Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, has partnered with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to conduct research about local surveillance programs in key areas.
They recently published a paper titled “Atlas of Surveillance: Southwestern Border Communities” focusing on border counties near Mexico and the disproportionate level of surveillance technologies present in those regions.
The EFF has been working on the issues of privacy on the Internet for approximately three decades now and RSJ staff have been travelling to conferences in San Francisco for several years to connect with Bay Area institutions.
In 2017, they began negotiations with EFF to collaborate on a project studying surveillance, which would benefit both the RSJ’s students by allowing them to do a large-scale investigative piece using the EFF’s resources and EFF’s larger research.
Dave Maass, the EFF’s senior investigative researcher, is currently a Visiting Professor of Media Technology at the RSJ as part of this collaboration.
Gi Yun, an associate professor and the Director of Advanced Media Studies at the RSJ, explains the purpose of EFF’s research
“Let’s say if you’re curious or for a good reason you don’t like to be surveilled, particularly by governments, and you’d like to know what kind of surveillance is happening in the area you’re in… If you Google, you might find some information on recent accidents or recent events where police used surveillance technology to prosecute someone,” Yun said.
Yun explained that the focus on border towns in the recent study was due to the increased surveillance in those areas as a means to monitor illegal border crossing. Yun also explained this is a fairly unique collaboration, like EFF tend to stay away from engaging with universities, due to the belief that investing too much time in the education field can cause a detachment from the industrial one.
Yun hopes to expand the program and always adapt it and experiment with new things.
“Last semester we primarily operated based on my two classes, Cyber Security & Privacy and Surveillance class and Social Media class,”Yun said. “[…] this semester professor File is offering a Freedom of Information Act class that Dave Maass is heavily helping…and there is a Data Journalism class that will also be in collaboration with Dave Maass and the EFF, so we’re not standing still, we are moving and dealing with new and trying to provide more opportunities for our students.”
Yun, who is also a faculty associate of the Cybersecurity Center in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, recommended non-RSJ students who wish to be more involved in protecting their data and privacy attend Google and Facebook Tools trainings provided by the Center.
He also recommended students to attend the Dave Carroll forum hosted by the RSJ. The event will take place at the Joe Crowley Student Union Theater from 12:00-12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, which will cover similar concerns of personal/public privacy in the digital age.
Matt Cotter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.