It's Too Complicated: How the Internet Upends Katz, Smith, and Electronic Surveillance Law

3:30 pm on Wednesday, January 30, 2019
5:00 pm on Wednesday, January 30, 2019
School of Law, 15th Floor Faculty Lounge, 765 Commonwealth Ave.
Electronic surveillance law seeks to balance protecting the privacy of the people while enabling government's surveillance capabilities. In the U.S., legal frameworks governing surveillance have, for forty years, drawn a distinction between content and non-content components of communication. The non-content portion of a communication and those aspects of non-content being shared with a third party receive a lower degree of privacy protection than the content shared between two communicating parties. Such protections were developed in an era when public service telephony reigned. Today’s communications systems, particularly on the Internet, are far more complex.

In this Cyber Alliance talk, Tufts University Bridge Professor in Cyber Security and Policy Susan Landau will show how complexity collapses traditional content/non-content distinctions and disrupts application of the third party doctrine to such an extent that, in many circumstances, they have become too difficult for courts to construe and apply consistently. It's too complicated.

The implications of this in-depth technical analysis, worked on jointly with Steve Bellovin, Matt Blaze, and Stephanie Pell, are huge, overthrowing many aspects of surveillance law. Prof. Landau will also provide recommendations as to how new electronic surveillance law should be shaped.

There will be time for casual conversation and light refreshments before and after the presentation. Please RSVP to