Brittan Heller will bring personal experience as a victim along with extensive professional international law and cybercrime experience to her Tucson presentation, “Pulling the Plug on Online Anti-Semitism & Bigotry,” on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Harvey & Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy, 3718 E. River Road.
Heller works at the intersection of human rights, technology, and the law. As the first director of technology and society for the Anti-Defamation League, she established ADL’s Center for Technology and Society, which opened in November, to insure justice and fair treatment for all in the internet age. Heller says this unit brings 104 years of ADL civil rights experience into the digital age.
Heller’s father was a police chief in Sahuarita, “so I am excited to come to Arizona, I love it there,” she says. “I’ll be talking about what people in Tucson can do about cybercrime. This is a technical problem with a social solution. We all have a responsibility to take a stance against hate.
“When I became a victim of cyber harassment, I really felt what it was like to be targeted online,” recalls Heller, “for my gender and my race and my ethnicity. And more than that, I felt how terrifying it can feel to be threatened and how powerless this type of abuse can make you feel, especially when it’s coming from anonymous sources.”
“ADL’s work encompasses fighting bigotry of all kinds, and we encourage all [political] candidates to call out hate. We’ve been on record engaging with members of the Trump campaign, trying to encourage them to emphasize that hate has no place in the public sphere,” says Heller. “If the internet is the Wild West, Feb. 8 we’ll be taking people through the good, the bad and the ugly. We take a proactive approach in fighting cyber hate, partnering with entrepreneurs and innovators who are reinventing our world, addressing online needs.
A graduate with distinction of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Heller formerly served in the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, investigating and prosecuting genocide, war crimes, human smuggling, and international fraud.
As a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford, she worked in Kabul and established a law school at the American University of Afghanistan. She also prosecuted the first cases at the International Criminal Court and worked on a trial team at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As a student, Heller was an advisor to the Office of the Secretary of State, the International Crisis Group, and the United Nations.
This ADL-sponsored event is free and includes a dessert reception. RSVP is required in advance at pullingtheplug.eventbrite.com, [email protected] or (602) 274-0991.