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.
Computing & Cybersecurity
Azer Bestavros (Warren Distinguished Professor of Computer Science; Founding Director of the Hariri Institute)
John Byers (Data Science Faculty Fellow and Professor of Computer Science)
Ran Canetti (Professor of Computer Science; Co-Director of RISCS)
Sharon Goldberg (Associate Professor of Computer Science)
Leo Reyzin (Professor of Computer Science)
Ari Trachtenberg (Professor and Associate Chair of Electrical & Computer Engineering)
Mayank Varia (Research Scientist at the Hariri Institute for Computing; Co-Director of RISCS)
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.
Networks And Associations
Public Interest Technology University Network
The Public Interest Technology University Network is a partnership of 21 colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network is dedicated to building the nascent field of public interest technology through curriculum development, faculty research opportunities, and experiential learning programs, in order to inspire a new generation of civic-minded technologists and policy leaders. For more information click here
Current Activities in 2019-2020
Since the fall of 2016, the alliance has also organized and sponsored a number of successful events. These events 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.
In 2019-2020, all seminars run at 3:30pm-5:00pm, with networking and refreshments at 3:30pm-3:45pm and the talk at 3:45pm-5:00pm. Most seminars are hosted in the Hariri seminar room at 111 Cummington Mall room MCS 157, or the Law School faculty lounge at 765 Commonwealth Ave room 1503.
Past Events & Activities
3/4/2020 Sam Weinstein, Assistant Professor of Law, Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law (location: Boston University School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Avenue)
2/26/2020 Leslie John, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School (location: Hariri Institute for Computing Seminar Room MCS 157, 111 Cummington Mall)
2/12/2020 Chiara Longoni, Associate Professor of Marketing, Questrom School of Business (location: Boston University School of Law, 765 Commonwealth Avenue)
1/15/2020 Cameron F. Kerry, Ann R. and Andrew H. Tisch Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Brookings Institution (location: Hariri Institute for Computing Seminar Room MCS 157, 111 Cummington Mall)
12/11/2019 Gianluca Stringhini, Boston University – Computational Methods to Measure
and Mitigate Weaponized Online Information
12/4/2019 Gabe Kaptchuk, Johns Hopkins University
11/20/2019 Yiling Chen, Harvard University – Algorithm-in-the-Loop Decision Making: Disparate Interactions and Limitations
11/6/2019 Kristopher Grahame, Intelligence Analyst, FBI – Disinformation in the Age in Social Media: A Foreign Influence Briefing
10/23/2019 John Abowd, Cornell University – The U.S. Census Bureau Tries to be a Good Data Steward in the 21st Century
10/16/2019 Hemu Nigam, Founder of SSP Blue – When Hackers Attack: A View of the Ensuing Chaos from the Inside
10/9/2019 Alan Mislove, Northeastern University
9/25/2019 Tiffany Li, Boston University – Biometric Privacy
9/11/2019 Alan Rozenshtein, University of Minnesota – Silicon Valley’s Speech
8/13/2019 Katrina Ligett, Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Shifting the Balance Between Individuals & Data Processors: Asserting Cooperative Autonomy Over Personal Data While Generating New Value
4/17/2019 Asaf Lubin, Tufts and Yale – location: Hariri
4/8/2019 at 12:30-2pm Kate Klonick, St. John’s – location: Hariri
4/3/2019 Ron Rivest, MIT – location: Law
3/20/2019 Neil Richards, Washington University – location: Law
3/6/2019 James Grimmelmann, Cornell – location: Hariri
2/27/2019 Marshall Van Alstyne, BU – location: Law
1/30/2019 Susan Landau, Tufts – It’s Too Complicated, How the Internet Upends Katz, Smith, and Electronic Surveillance Law – 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
12/12/2018 Sarah Scheffler, BU – From Soft Classifiers to Hard Decisions: How Fair Can We Be? – location: Law
11/28/2018 Danny Weitzner, MIT – Computer science and the law: what the fields need from each other in the Information Age (video)
11/14/2018 Leah Plunkett, UNH – Sharenthood: How the Digital Tech Habits of Parents, Teachers, and Other Trusted Adults Harm Kids & Teens
10/31/2018 Jonathan Frankle, MIT – Machine Learning and Neural Networks for Lawyers
10/17/2018 Andrea Matwyshyn, Northeastern – The Internet of Bodies (video)
10/10/2018 Joan Feigenbaum, Yale
10/3/2018 Aloni Cohen, MIT – Towards Modeling Singling Out
9/19/2018 Moon Duchin, Tufts – Gerrymandering: Can Computing Cut the Gordian Knot?
9/5/2018 Yaniv Benhamou, University of Geneva – Self-Regulation and Certification: An Appropriate Tool to Regulate the Platforms and AI-Industries (video)
7/31/2018 Danielle Citron (University of Maryland)
5/14/2018 Robot Lawyers: Automating Legal Compliance for Transferring Private Data – Stephen Chong (Harvard University)
5/7/2018 Digital Advertising: A View from the Inside – John Byers (Computer Science)
4/30/2018 Machine Generated Culpability: Inscrutable Machine Evidence in the Criminal Legal Process – Ahmed Ghappour (BU Law) (video)
4/4/2018 Rory Van Loo (BU Law)
3/12/2018 Bridging Privacy Definitions: Differential Privacy and Privacy Concepts from Law and Policy – Alexandra Wood (Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University)
2/20/2018 Using Machine Learning to Improve Policy Problems: An Econometric Perspective – Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University)
2/5/2018 How Computer Scientists Can Wrest Tech Policy Out of the Cold, Dead Grip of the Invisible Hand – Paul Ohm (Georgetown)
2/2/2018 Governing the Internet: Public Access, Private Regulation (symposium) – Journal of Science and Technology Law
11/15/2017 Algorithmic Transparency for the Smart City (Wednesday@Hariri event) – Ellen Goodman (Rutgers)
11/8/2017 Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance and the Struggle to Reform the NSA (book talk & Wednesday@Hariri event) – Tim Edgar (Brown University)
10/25/2017 Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies (book talk & Wednesday@Hariri event) – Woodrow Hartzog (Northeastern University)
10/13/2017 Claiming Design – Mark McKenna (University of Notre Dame)
10/11/2017 The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement (book talk & Wednesday@Hariri event) – Andrew Ferguson (University of the District of Columbia)
11/30/2016 Emergent Normative and Legal Aspects of Automated Systems: The Intricacies of Machine Learning Algorithms – Argyro Karanasiou & Dimitris Pinotsis
11/4/2016 The Future of Fair Data Practices – Frank Pasquale
3/15/2018 BU Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Series presents Accountability in an Age of Algorithms: How Should Ethics and Technology Converse?
2/20/2018 BU Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Series presents Open Access and Research into History: Issues of Copyright – Casey Westerman (Institute of Advanced Studies) on Kurt Gödel’s Max Phil notebooks, with commentary from Peter Suber (Harvard University)
While the following events are not hosted by the Cyber Alliance, they contribute to the University’s broad interest at the intersection of law, technology, social sciences, and the humanities.
4/26/2017 Online Political Speech & Computational Fact Checking Tools
12/16/2016 Law Enforcement, Sex Trafficking, Policing & Gun Control, with Valiant Richey, King County Prosecutor
Brown Bag Lunch Series
11/28/2017 Pinning Down “Privacy” in Statistical Data Analysis – Adam Smith
10/23/2017 Training Data and Innovation in Markets for AI – Michael Meurer
10/2/2017 A Crash Course in Data Encryption: Concepts, Techniques, Limitations, and Unrealized Potential, Part II – Ran Canetti
7/17/2017 A Crash Course in Data Encryption: Concepts, Techniques, Limitations, and Unrealized Potential – Ran Canetti
2/17/2017 Sharing Knowledge without Sharing Data: On the false choice between the privacy and utility of information – Azer Bestravros
12/12/2016 & 12/21/2016 Software Copyright – Wendy Gordon
11/21/2016 Surveillance and Traffic Shaping – Sharon Goldberg
10/31/2016 Intellectual Property Rights and Online Intermediaries – Stacey Dogan
Congressional Testimony and Briefings
6/2019 Danielle Citron – Testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on ‘Deep Fakes’ (written remarks)
2/2019 Azer Bestavros, Andrei Lapets, and Mayank Varia
9/2018 Azer Bestavros and Mayank Varia
6/2017 Mayank Varia
6/2016 Sharon Goldberg
Awards and Honors
We are very pleased to announce that Prof. Danielle Citron has been named as a 2019 MacArthur Fellow!
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.
Selected media interviews and mentions
D. Wakabayashi. Legal Shield for Websites Rattles Under Onslaught of Hate Speech. The New York Times. August 6, 2019.
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.
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, at firstname.lastname@example.org.