Jameel Jaffer
Founding Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
Biography
Jameel Jaffer is the founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which works to protect and expand the freedoms of speech and the press through strategic litigation, research, and public education. Until recently, Jaffer was deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, in which role he oversaw the ACLU’s work relating to free speech, privacy, technology, national security, and international human rights.

Jaffer has litigated some of the most significant post-9/11 cases relating to national security and civil liberties, including cases concerning detention, interrogation, surveillance, targeted killing, and government secrecy. He co-led the litigation that resulted in the publication of the Bush administration’s “torture memos”—a lawsuit the New York Times described as “among the most successful in the history of public disclosure.” More recently, he led the ACLU’s litigation that resulted in the publication of the Obama administration’s “drone memos.”
Jameel Jaffer
Founding Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
SPEAKER FILM
Jameel Jaffer — Reframing the Debate on Free Speech
Jameel Jaffer — Reframing the Debate on Free Speech

The First Amendment protects what Americans view as fundamental human rights—the freedom to believe and express different ideas—from exercising religious choices to freedoms of speech, press, petitions, and peaceful assembly. Jameel Jaffer reminds us that freedom of speech is at the core of the national debate on privacy and government surveillance. We live in a world where we exchange personal data on a daily basis. But the limits and rules on who accesses and disseminates this information are largely undefined. This economy of information raises an even greater question: How can individuals explore information, think independently and creatively, and express their ideas if they feel they are being monitored? Are government-accessible Google searches limiting the individual rights of many, eventually leading to an unknown aggregate effect on society?