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.


  • 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)
  • Stacey Dogan (Professor of Law)
  • Juliet Floyd (Professor of Philosophy)
  • Ahmed Ghappour (Data Science Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Law)
  • Wendy Gordon (Warren Distinguished Professor of Law)
  • Rebecca Ingber (Associate Professor of Law)
  • Michael Meurer (Professor of Law)
  • Nancy Moore (Professor of Law)
  • Andrew Sellars (Clinical Instructor of Law; Director of Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic)
  • Rory Van Loo (Associate Professor of 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.

    Current Activities

    Since the fall of 2016, the alliance has 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 technically-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 the ‘other side’.


  • 11/4/2016 The Future of Fair Data Practices – Frank Pasquale
  • 11/30/2016 Emergent Normative and Legal Aspects of Automated Systems: The Intricacies of Machine Learning Algorithms – Argyro Karanasiou & Dimitris Pinotsis
  • 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)
  • 10/13/2017 Claiming Design – Mark McKenna (University of Notre Dame)
  • 10/25/2017 Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies (book talk & Wednesday@Hariri event) – Woodrow Hartzog (Northeastern University)
  • 11/8/2017 Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance and the Struggle to Reform the NSA (book talk & Wednesday@Hariri event) – Tim Edgar (Brown University)
  • 11/15/2017 Algorithmic Transparency for the Smart City (Wednesday@Hariri event) – Ellen Goodman (Rutgers)
  • 2/2/2018 Governing the Internet: Public Access, Private Regulation (symposium) – Journal of Science and Technology Law
  • 2/5/2018 How Computer Scientists Can Wrest Tech Policy Out of the Cold, Dead Grip of the Invisible Hand – Paul Ohm (Georgetown)
  • 2/20/2018 Using Machine Learning to Improve Policy Problems: An Econometric Perspective – Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard University)
  • 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)
  • 4/4/2018 Rory Van Loo (BU Law)
  • 4/30/2018 Machine Generated Culpability: Inscrutable Machine Evidence in the Criminal Legal Process – Ahmed Ghappour (BU Law)
  • 5/7/2018 Digital Advertising: A View from the Inside – John Byers (Computer Science)
  • 5/14/2018 Robot Lawyers: Automating Legal Compliance for Transferring Private Data – Stephen Chong (Harvard University)
  • 7/31/2018 Danielle Citron ( University of Maryland)
    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.

  • 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)
  • 3/15/2018 BU Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Series presents Accountability in an Age of Algorithms: How Should Ethics and Technology Converse?
  • 12/16/2016 Law Enforcement, Sex Trafficking, Policing & Gun Control, with Valiant Richey, King County Prosecutor
  • 4/26/2017 Online Political Speech & Computational Fact Checking Tools
  • 10/31/2016 Intellectual Property Rights and Online Intermediaries – Stacey Dogan
  • 11/21/2016 Surveillance and Traffic Shaping – Sharon Goldberg
  • 12/12/2016 & 12/21/2016 Software Copyright – Wendy Gordon
  • 2/17/2017Sharing Knowledge without Sharing Data: On the false choice between the privacy and utility of information – Azer Bestravros
  • 7/17/2017 A Crash Course in Data Encryption: Concepts, Techniques, Limitations, and Unrealized Potential – Ran Canetti
  • 10/2/2017 A Crash Course in Data Encryption: Concepts, Techniques, Limitations, and Unrealized Potential, Part II – Ran Canetti
  • 10/23/17 Training Data and Innovation in Markets for AI – Michael Meurer
  • 11/28/17 Pinning Down “Privacy” in Statistical Data Analysis – Adam Smith
  • 6/2016 Sharon Goldberg
  • 6/2017 Mayank Varia
  • 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