Edward Snowden: Big Data, Security, and Human Rights

2016, Media + Information, Equity + Justice

Edward Snowden will join Metro Vancouverites for a conversation live via web-link about the power, promise and peril of big data.

Snowden will provide a keynote presentation, followed by a moderated discussion led by CBC’s Senior Correspondent and Host, Laura Lynch and featuring expert panelists Micheal Vonn (BC Civil Liberties Association), Peter Chow-White (SFU), and Fred Popowich (SFU). Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions via Twitter using the hashtags #snowden and #bigdata during the discussion.

Presented in partnership with the SFU President’s Dream Colloquium on Engaging Big Data.

Tue, 05 Apr 2016

6:00 p.m. (PT)

Queen Elizabeth Theatre
650 Hamilton Street, Vancouver BC



Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden @Snowden is an American intelligence contractor who in 2013 revealed the existence of secret wide-ranging information-gathering programs conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill. Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Further disclosures were made by other newspapers including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.

A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot, and a traitor. His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.

Micheal Vonn

Micheal Vonn is a lawyer and has been the Policy Director of the BCCLA since 2004. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia  in the Faculty of Law and in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies where she has taught civil liberties and information ethics. Her publication credits include the Birkbeck Law Review, Surveillance and Society, Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, and Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law. Ms. Vonn is a frequent speaker and media commentator on a variety of civil liberties topics including privacy, national security, policing, surveillance and free speech. She is currently a collaborator on Big Data Surveillance, a multi-year research projected lead by Queens University. She is an Advisory Board Member of Ryerson University’s Centre for Free Expression and an Advisory Board Member of Privacy International.

Peter Chow-White

Dr. Peter Chow-White is an expert on the adoption and impact of big data on individuals, organizations, and society.  He works closely with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia on big data and social media privacy protection. The research in his GeNA Lab investigates communication, strategy, and big data in genomics and health, social media, and professional sports. He collaborates with scientists at the BC Cancer Agency, Genome Sciences Centre, and Centre for Clinical Genomics developing genome diagnostics for cancer and mitigating social and professional challenges and risks. His lab also develops big data software applications for large-scale text and content analysis.

Fred Popowich

Professor Fred Popowich received his PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1989, and since then has been a faculty member in the School of Computing Science at SFU. Currently he serves as Associate Director Research and Industry Relations in the School of Computing Science and Director of the Professional Masters' Program in Big Data. He is also the President of the Canadian Network for Visual Analytics (CANVAC) and Founding Director of the Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics.


Laura Lynch

Laura Lynch @lauralynchcbc has covered Canada and the world for more than twenty years, being recognized both at home and abroad for her work.

She has been the CBC's correspondent based in London and in Washington DC . In both posts, she covered stories that marked crucial moments in world history: the attacks of September 11th,  2001 and their aftermath, the invasion of Afghanistan, the fallout in Pakistan, the bombings of transport systems in London and Madrid. In Africa, Laura went undercover to report on what was happening inside Zimbabwe at a time when journalists were barred from the country. She has also spent time in the Middle East, most recently in Syria and Iran.

Since her return to Canada in 2012, Laura has been a regular guest host on The CurrentAs it Happens and The Sunday Edition

She has won many awards for her work, receiving the prestigious Nieman fellowship for Harvard University, an award from the British Bar Association for a two part documentary series that aired on the BBC World Service, as well as recognition from Amnesty International, the Overseas Press Club in New York and the Gabriel awards. 

Born and raised in Vancouver, Laura earned a law degree from the University of Victoria and holds a journalism degree from Carleton University.