Privacy, Technology, and Vulnerability Workshop: Call For Papers

By-Invitation Workshop Primarily for Penn State and Monash University Faculty & Researchers

“Privacy, Technology, and Vulnerability” is an interdisciplinary Penn State and Monash University workshop to address the complex relationship between privacy, technology, and vulnerability.

Ongoing technological advances, including AI and big data analytics, are impacting individual privacy, shifting societal norms, and destabilizing geo-political order. There is no clear approach as to how regulation should respond to the increasing “datafication” of our daily lives, and the relationship between privacy, evolving technology, and vulnerability grows increasingly complex. To focus much-needed attention on these issues, Penn State Dickinson Law, Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS), and Monash University, have joined together to sponsor the Privacy, Technology, & Vulnerability Workshop on June 22-23, 2020 at the Prato Centre in Italy.

The workshop is intended to provide a platform for discovering, and connecting, complementary research capabilities of Monash Faculty of Law, Penn State Dickinson Law, ICDS, and the broader Monash and Penn State Universities as well as to provide researchers with the opportunity to learn about new methodologies, approaches, research networks and funding opportunities. The workshop organizers encourage multi-disciplinary participation by Penn State and Monash researchers, particularly in the fields of data sciences, AI, ethics, and law. Some scholars with complimentary research from other universities may be invited. It is expected that the workshop will provide the basis for the development of new research collaborations between Monash and Penn State.

Workshop Subjects

The workshop seeks scholarly research and interest in the use and impact of technology on privacy and vulnerability, including: the impact upon specific groups of persons in which marginalization and vulnerability arises as a result of a specific status or attribute, such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, genetics, disability, poverty, religious beliefs, medical status, refugee status or imprisonment; and the vulnerability of democratic institutions and social norms. The first aspect of vulnerability is associated frequently with a lack of power. Against this background, privacy invasive technologies, such as surveillance, use of biometrics, data matching, and predictive policing are often first deployed against marginalized groups who are unable to resist or who are unaware of the use of invasive technologies. Invasive technologies and data can also be used to control or curtail access to critical services, such as healthcare. The second aspect of vulnerability occurs when state and non-state actors use technology and data to de-stabilize societal and government institutions through manipulative and microtargeting disinformation campaigns, such as was done during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.

The regulation of most new technologies seeks to provide a balance between enabling and fostering advantageous change, while avoiding unjustifiable burdens and minimizing social cost. The balance between these competing objectives must be drawn differently where technology affects a particular social group disproportionately or is being used to destabilize societies. New technologies can create new disparities, and the interaction of privacy and vulnerability has the potential to deepen the digital divide. Likewise, a balance must be struck between the objectives of freedom of speech and access to information, regulation of behavioral messaging, political speech, and the control of online content and messaging.

Comparative analysis of these issues is expected to be particularly fruitful. While U.S. regulation appears more permissive of the use of personal information than Australia and the European Union, it also provides protections to some vulnerable groups (such as children) that are currently absent from Australian regulation. There is also a rich global debate surrounding the impact of new technologies on vulnerable groups or persons, the role of ethics and the law in the regulation of a data-driven economy, and how to detect and deter the destabilizing online disinformation campaigns by state and non-state actors.

Authors of the selected papers will be invited to present and discuss them during a two-day by-invitation-only workshop held at Monash University’s Prato Centre in Prato, Italy, on June 22-23, 2020. Each accepted paper will be assigned a respondent recruited from the academic communities and will be allotted time for presentation, response and discussion. The two-day event is designed to provide room for social interaction.


If you have any queries, please contact Anne Toomey McKenna, ICDS Co-Hire, at

Key Dates

  • January 30, 2020: Submit abstracts (500 words max) & short bio(s) to and Please write PRATO WORKSHOP in your email subject line.
  • February 10, 2020: Acceptance decisions made & invitations extended.
  • May 30, 2020: Paper Drafts due to organizers and commenters/respondents.
  • June 22-23, 2020: Workshop


Thanks to the sponsorship of Monash, Penn State Dickinson Law, and ICDS, there are no fees to attend the Workshop, but individual faculty members and their respective academic units are responsible for associated travel and lodging costs. Additional event details will be supplied to faculty and researchers who express an interest in attending.