The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
Out of the 7.5 billion people on Earth, I’m guessing that approximately zero percent will be sad to see this benighted year come to an end. Looking back is too depressing, so I want to take a look forward. Read more about What Will 2021 Hold for Tech Policy?
"Some personal news," as they say: After five wonderful years at CIS, starting tomorrow (December 1) I'll be transitioning into a new role as a Research Scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. I'll continue to be a CIS affiliate (with blogging rights on this blog!), and my work will continue to focus on encryption, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues. 2021 is poised to be a consequential year for encryption policy in the U.S. Read more about New Role at Stanford
This past spring, while the pandemic was worsening around us and the first shelter in place orders went into effect, I began an exploratory research project with then graduate student researcher (now Stanford Ph.D graduate) Andreas Katsanevas and a team of fantastic undergraduates: Claudia Bobadilla, Nivedha Kelley Soundappan, Emilia Porubcin (all from Stanford), and Morgan Livingston (U.C. Berkeley). Read more about Dark Patterns and the CCPA
Government computer systems in Hall County, Georgia, including a voter signature database, were hit by a ransomware attack earlier this fall in the first known ransomware attack on election infrastructure during the 2020 presidential election. Thankfully, county officials reported that the voting process for its citizens was not disrupted. Read more about Ransomware can interfere with elections and fuel disinformation – basic cybersecurity precautions are key to minimizing the damage
A review of Shannon Vallor’s excellent book Technology and the Virtues, which details perspectives on virtue from Aristotle, Confucius, and Buddhist perspectives, suggests the inquiry would benefit from engagement with Christian Neo-Platonic and derivative perspectives. I agree, though here I extend the engagement to a more general set of Christian perspectives on virtue.
To do this, a Christianity emphasizing humility is preferable to one emphasizing difference and retribution. The goal is to be a candle, not a torch. This Christianity is well aware humans are often guided more by mental shortcuts than by objective analysis and rational choice. The “ego is the enemy” as one author put it. Which is to say, importantly, that the person is not the enemy; the person is not the problem.
Within each person, of any status, race, sexual or gender identity, age, or religious practice, is the divine and the good. I think it’s a mistake to place blame on what technology is “doing to us.” In the “software” of our DNA is a superior human capacity, one that can hear divine goodness. Rather than ignore it and treat humans as inexorably enslaved to our prejudices, a principle of virtue should aim at not only changes in technology design but also at defining a social consensus of personal accountability to emotional growth. Read more about “Tool Without A Handle: Spirituality, Virtue, and Technology Ethics”
On September 30, Representatives Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced the House version of the EARN IT Act (H.R.8454), which had previously been introduced in the Senate (S.3398) in March. Read more about House Introduces EARN IT Act Companion Bill, Somehow Manages to Make It Even Worse
This week, California filed its first brief in the lawsuit by the United States and Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast that seeks to overturn California’s net neutrality law. SB 822, which was signed into law in September 2018, is the only state law that comprehensively restores all the net neutrality protections from the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order. Read more about California Defends its Net Neutrality Law
On August 7, I had the pleasure of doing a "fireside chat" with my friend and Section 230 expert Cathy Gellis at this year's virtual DEF CON Crypto & Privacy Village. Cathy gave a primer on Section 230, and then we had a discussion about the EARN IT Act bill, the LAED Act bill, and the threats they pose to online speech, privacy, security, and encryption. You can watch the video here. Read more about EARN IT Act Talk at the DEF CON Crypto & Privacy Village