Cyber Security, Law, and Society Alliance

The BU Cyber Security, Law, and Society Alliance (Cyber Alliance) is a collaboration between computer science researchers, law professors, and social scientists to position BU as a leader in the burgeoning global discussion on cybersecurity. The alliance aims to leverage BU’s disciplinary breadth to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary debate, research, and activities in pursuit of this goal.

The Cyber Alliance is spearheaded by the Center for Reliable Information Systems & Cyber Security (RISCS).

The alliance has established a seminar series to explore the interaction between cybersecurity technology, law, and policy. In addition, the alliance has invited field experts to give seminars at BU and supported congressional briefings to continue to grow the credentials of the University in this research area. Additionally, faculty are working to create innovative learning opportunities that bring computer science and law students together to tackle challenges of data ethics and cybersecurity law.


In addition to the above BU researchers, many students as well as collaborators from Greater Boston Area institutions contribute to the BU Cyber Alliance and participate in events and related discussions.

Research Scholarship

Our Alliance has produced several peer-reviewed publications, newspaper articles, and manuscripts.

  • A. Bestavros. It’s time to tell students what they need to know. Published by The Washington Post.
  • R. Canetti, A. Cohen, N. Dikkala, G. Ramnarayan, S. Scheffler, and A. Smith. From Soft Classifiers to Hard Decisions: How fair can we be? Published at FAT* 2019
  • A. Z. Rozenshtein, M. Varia, and C. V. Wright. How Congress Can De-Escalate the Second Crypto War: Fund Research and Broker a Crypto Armistice. Posted at the Lawfare blog.
  • A. Sellars. Roadmap to Data Generated by New Technologies and the Stored Communications Act. Available at SSRN.
  • A. Sellars. Twenty Years of Web Scraping and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 24 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. 372. Available at SSRN.
  • M. Varia. A Roadmap for Exceptional Access Research. Posted at the Lawfare blog.
  • C. V. Wright and M. Varia. Crypto Crumple Zones: Enabling Limited Access Without Mass Surveillance. Published at Euro S&P.

  • S. Goldberg. Surveillance without Borders: The “Traffic Shaping” Loophole and Why It Matters. Available at The Century Foundation.
  • R. Ingber, Interpretation Catalysts in Cyberspace. 95 Texas Law Review 1531. Available at SSRN and Scholarly Commons.

  • The Tech Whisperers. Boston University 2018 Annual Report. December 2018.
  • K. McAlpine. Patch Fixes Won’t Stop Massive Data Breaches. What Will?. BU Research. December 4, 2018.
  • J. Milligan. Interview on Bloomberg Baystate Business. December 3, 2018.
  • A. Jahnke. Are Computer-Aided Decisions Actually Fair?. BU Research, November 26, 2018
  • E. Wilkins. New Tech Could Resolve Student Data-Privacy Dilemma: Ed Dept. Bloomberg Government, September 24, 2018.
  • S. Stalinsky. Tech titan efforts to stop terrorists from ‘going dark’ are, so far, inadequate. The Hill, April 30, 2018.
  • J. Vijayan. New Method Proposed for Secure Government Access to Encrypted Data. Dark Reading, March 19, 2018.
  • C. Osborne. Cryptographic crumpling: The encryption ‘middle ground’ for government surveillance. ZDNet, March 19, 2018.
  • Current Activities

    Since the fall of 2016, the alliance has also organized and sponsored a number of successful events. These events, which are on-going (see below), rotate between the School of Law and at the Hariri Institute of Computing, with BU Law faculty giving talks tailored for computer-science-minded audiences at the Hariri Institute, and reciprocally with RISCS researchers giving presentation tailored for social-science-minded audiences at the Law School; the intent is to explain work in a manner that is accessible to all.

    Each talk will take place at 3:30-5pm, either in the Hariri Institute’s seminar room (111 Cummington Mall, room 180) or in the 15th Floor Faculty Lounge of the Law School (765 Commonwealth Ave).

  • 9/5/2018 Yaniv Benhamou, University of Geneva – Self-Regulation and Certification: An Appropriate Tool to Regulate the Platforms and AI-Industries (video)
  • 9/19/2018 Moon Duchin, Tufts – Gerrymandering: Can Computing Cut the Gordian Knot?
  • 10/3/2018 Aloni Cohen, MIT – Towards Modeling Singling Out
  • 10/10/2018 Joan Feigenbaum, Yale
  • 10/17/2018 Andrea Matwyshyn, Northeastern – The Internet of Bodies (video)
  • 10/31/2018 Jonathan Frankle, MIT – Machine Learning and Neural Networks for Lawyers
  • 11/14/2018 Leah Plunkett, UNH – Sharenthood: How the Digital Tech Habits of Parents, Teachers, and Other Trusted Adults Harm Kids & Teens
  • 11/28/2018 Danny Weitzner, MIT – Computer science and the law: what the fields need from each other in the Information Age (video)
  • 12/12/2018 Sarah Scheffler, BU – From Soft Classifiers to Hard Decisions: How Fair Can We Be? – location: Law
  • 1/16/2019 Jeff Kosseff, US Naval Academy – The 26 Words That Created the Internet: The History and Future of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – location: Hariri
  • 1/30/2019 Susan Landau, Tufts – It’s Too Complicated, How the Internet Upends Katz, Smith, and Electronic Surveillance Law – location: Law
  • 2/27/2019 Marshall Van Alstyne, BU – location: Law
  • 3/6/2019 James Grimmelmann, Cornell – location: Hariri
  • 3/20/2019 Neil Richards, Washington University – location: Law
  • 4/3/2019 Ron Rivest, MIT – location: Law
  • 4/8/2019 at 12:30-2pm Kate Klonick, St. John’s – location: Hariri
  • 4/17/2019 Asaf Lubin, Tufts and Yale – location: Hariri

    Looking Forward

    As the collaborations enabled by the alliance continue to grow, a number of exciting opportunities for faculty and students are being planned, including:

    • Resident scholars
    • Cross-disciplinary research
    • Joint workshops
    • Development of educational training materials for lawyers like judges and prosecutors
    • Development of curricula for joint classes to BU students

    For more information about current as well as planned activities of the BU Cyber Security, Law, and Society Alliance, please contact Mayank Varia, Co-Director of RISCS and MACS project lead, at