Ahmed Ghappour

Associate Professor of Law

Data Science Faculty Fellow, Boston University Hariri Institute for Computing

BS, Rutgers University
JD, New York University School of Law

Areas of Interest
Administrative Law, Criminal Law, Cyberlaw, Cybersecurity Law, Evidence Law, Foreign Relations & National Security Law, Intellectual Property, International & Comparative Law, International Law, Law & Technology

Ahmed Ghappour, an expert in criminal law and computer security, joined the full-time faculty of Boston University School of Law in 2017. He was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor at U.C. Hastings College of the Law where he taught Criminal Procedure and a seminar on Electronic Surveillance.

Ghappour’s research bridges computer science and the law to address contemporary challenges wrought by new technologies in the administration of criminal justice and national security. His recently published Stanford Law Review article, “Searching Places Unknown: Law Enforcement Jurisdiction on the Dark Web,” examines the foreign relations and national security implications of government hacking operations that use malware to pursue criminal suspects that use sophisticated cryptographic tools to anonymize their communications on the “dark web.” The article was competitively selected for presentation at the New Voices in National Security Law session of the 2017 American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, and the New Voices in International Law session of the 2017 American Society of International Law Annual Meeting.

Ghappour’s research and teaching interests stem from his experience litigating complex computer crime and national security cases. At U.C. Hastings, he founded the school’s Liberty, Security & Technology Clinic, which provided legal services to criminal defendants in espionage and computer crime cases. Prior to UC-Hastings, he taught the National Security Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, represented Guantanamo detainees in their habeas corpus proceedings at Reprieve UK, and worked as a patent litigator at Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP. Formerly, Ghappour was a computer engineer focused on automation, diagnostics, distributed systems architecture and high performance computing.

  1. Ahmed Ghappour, James Cooper, Hillary Greene, David Lieber & Felix Wu, "Panel: Data Collection and the Regulatory State," in Symposium Privacy, Security & Power: The State of Digital Surveillance, 49 Connecticut Law Review 1733 (2017).
    Publisher | Scholarly Commons
  2. Ahmed Ghappour, "Searching Places Unknown: Law Enforcement Jurisdiction on the Dark Web," 69 Stanford Law Review 1075 (2017).
    SSRN | Scholarly Commons
  3. Ahmed Ghappour, "Tallinn, Hacking, and Customary International Law," 111 AJIL Unbound 224 (2017).
    SSRN | Scholarly Commons

3 credits

This course will consider legal and policy challenges arising from rapidly evolving threats in cyberspace. It will define an array of cyber threats, and consider the ways in which they impact a range of governmental and non-governmental actors and entities. It will identify the domestic and international legal frameworks that regulate conduct in cyberspace--including laws related to cybercrime, cyberespionage, and cyberwar--and examine substantive and institutional questions such as: What existing principles limit cyber threats? What are the norms emerging through state practice? How should we fill in the gaps? Who should make these decisions? How should they be enforced? The course will explore these questions within the context of broader policy debates about Internet governance and the role of governmental and non-governmental actors in defending against cyber threats; state restrictions on civil rights and liberties in defending against cyber threats; allocation of decision-making among (and within) the branches for U.S. cybersecurity; and issues of secrecy and accountability. The objective of this course is to deepen our understanding of the existing threats and protections in cyberspace, the regulatory challenges that exist, and the institutions that should address them. No technical knowledge is required. Familiarity with public international law, administrative law and criminal procedure is helpful, but not necessary. International law concepts will be introduced as necessary. GRADING NOTICE: This class will not offer the CR/NC/H option.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 792 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 7th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue,Thu 11:00 am 12:25 pm 3 Ahmed Ghappour LAW
FALL 2018: LAW JD 792 A1 , Sep 4th to Dec 6th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Mon,Wed 2:15 pm 3:40 pm 3 Ahmed Ghappour

3 credits

Previously titled National Security & Technology: Law & Policy. This seminar explores how modern technology disrupts many of the customs and principles upon which our laws and institutions for national security have evolved. The advancement of modern technology is changing the nature of how we perceive and defend against security threats across all domains. Attacks can be launched in ways that national borders and other conventional defenses cannot easily stop, and the proliferation of privacy enhancing cryptographic tools provides virtual refuge for threat actors to congregate, coordinate and conspire. At the same time, the state has mobilized the use of new technologies--expanding, and indeed, redefining, surveillance capabilities--to predict, prevent and defend against threats in the modern era. This course will focus on a series of historical and contemporary challenges posed by a range of technologies to the government's administration of security and justice, and the solutions implemented or proposed by the state in response. The objective is to contextualize and deepen our understanding of the substantive and institutional questions that arise from the modern day "going dark" problem, in order to facilitate sound policy and good politics in areas that are devoid of law. Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to: the use of cryptographic tools to evade government surveillance; government proposals for "backdoor" access to people's devices and data; the use of government hacking as a surveillance tool; and the use of machine learning to predict and prevent threat incidents. No technical knowledge is required. NOTES: This class does not satisfy the upper-class writing requirement. GRADING NOTICE: This class does not offer the CR/NC/H option. **A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar (designated by an (S) in the title), or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, may be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who are on a wait list for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.

SPRG 2018: LAW JD 849 A1 , Jan 16th to Apr 24th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Tue 10:40 am 12:40 pm 3 Ahmed GhappourCanetti LAW
FALL 2018: LAW JD 849 A1 , Sep 5th to Dec 5th 2018
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 6:30 pm 8:30 pm 3 Ahmed Ghappour
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