A prospective student in my SANS Legal 523 course had trouble getting a visa so she could travel to the US to attend the course. Following is the heart of a letter I wrote on her behalf to the US embassy in her country.
I send this letter in support of a visa application by the “Applicant”, a lawyer for [a non-US revenue authority]. The Applicant is applying for a visa so she can attend a professional seminar titled “Law of Data Security and Investigations” (the “Seminar”) in Orlando, Florida.
I am the instructor for the Seminar. I created the content for the Seminar, and I have been teaching the Seminar regularly for about eight years. The Seminar is organized under the SANS Institute, sans.org, premier outfit for training professionals on computer policy, security and forensics issues. The Seminar is held five times a year, in various cities around the US. These cities are selected for their good transportation and large hotels. The Seminar is always held as part of a larger technology conference organized by the SANS Institute.
The Seminar is unique in all the world. No other education experience comes close to matching the depth, content and quality of this in-person, highly-interactive Seminar. It is a five-day, intellectually-intensive training event that enables professionals (including lawyers, auditors, computer security experts, law enforcement officers and others) to understand and cope with the law of information security and investigations. Typically, 25+ students attend the Seminar.
The scope of the Seminar is global. We cover law throughout the world, though more focus is placed on US cases because the US has more experience with computer law issues.
There is no prerequisite for taking or benefiting from the Seminar. A lawyer like the Applicant needs no technical experience or technical responsibilities to benefit from the Seminar.
The Seminar is especially relevant to lawyers and other professionals who work for national revenue authorities. National revenue authorities face ever-growing problems associated with the Internet, electronic transactions, digital evidence, data privacy and computer security.
Lawyers and other professionals who attend the Seminar come from across the world. For example, when the Seminar was held in Washington, DC, December 2010, one of the students was a lawyer for a European police agency.
One of the reasons this Seminar is so valuable to students is that I am internationally-known on the topics covered in the Seminar. I am author of the leading book The Law of Electronic Commerce, among other professionally-recognized works. In 2003 I worked for a month in Sri Lanka, under a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID – an arm of the US State Department), to help the Sri Lankan government develop law and policy for electronic commerce.
The Seminar involves over 30 hours of professional discussion, interaction and training, which I lead in person. One of the values of the Seminar is that it attracts students from diverse backgrounds (government, private sector, nonprofit, US and non-US). We debate, share ideas and learn from one another about challenging topics in the law of computers, electronic evidence, IT records and digital audits and investigations.
The benefits from the Seminar involve much more than the delivery of facts by lecture. Students learn to think critically about issues by interacting with me and the other students, both formally during training sessions and informally during breaks. The Seminar allows students to network with like-minded colleagues. Also, the larger SANS technology conference, of which the Seminar is a part, provides special educational events during lunch breaks and in the evenings.