Snowden, Surveillance, and the Pentagon Papers

On January 23rd, as part of the Price Media Law Moot Court Americas Regional Round, New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Adam Liptak and the preeminent scholar on the Pentagon Papers case, Professor David Rudenstine, came together for a discussion that canvased ways of thinking about Snowden, disclosure and the history and future of surveillance in America.

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A Shift in International Information Security: The Story of a Diplomatic Oxymoron

Gregory Asmolov, a PhD candidate in New Media, Innovation, and Literacy at the London School of Economics, uses the recent UN draft resolution “Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security” to examine shifts in international Internet regulation. On November 11, 2013 CGCS hosted a talk with Gregory where he used Russia as a case study to suggest exploring Internet regulation beyond specific measures suggested by government, such as new legislation or law enforcement that seeks to restrict Internet freedom.

The Past. Information security vs. cybersecurity: traditional disagreements.

Russia and the U.S. have historically had very different positions on international Internet regulation issues. Washington focuses on cybersecurity, Internet freedom, and limiting the field of regulation to technological infrastructure while Moscow’s position centers on the much broader information security. According to Russian information security scholar Oleg Demidov, Russia tends to focus on the regulation of state-to-state relationships in the information realm. The traditional western position, however, is more concerned with threats affiliated with individual actors, as well as with state actors that limit individuals’ freedom through cyberspace regulation[1].

Another point of debate is whether cybersecurity should be regulated by hard law or by soft law (set of norms without compulsory commitment). While many discussions take place in different international forums, the United Nations continues to be a major arena for Russia’s promotion of information security as a framework for international regulation. Russia, acts through the UN first committee in order to frame Internet regulation within the broader context of international security.[2] The U.S., however, frames cybersecurity-related regulation as “creation of global culture of cybersecurity” and promote its initiatives through the UN second committee.

The Present. New project of the UN resolution: Strategic shift.

On the one hand, traditional opposition to the Russian “information security” approach continues to be a major leitmotif in the Western…

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Surveillance and Security: A Q&A with Bruce Schneier

After appearing as the keynote speaker at Scholarship After Snowden, security expert and author Bruce Schneier had a conversation with CGCS about online security.

CGCS: Were the Snowden revelations novel? What in the documents uncovered information that was unknown to surveillance and security scholars and experts?

Bruce Schneier: On the one hand, there was no real surprise.  Anyone who has followed the NSA has assumed that they did this.  What was surprising is the sheer extensiveness of the surveillance programs, which probably should not have been a surprise, either.  I guess just seeing it in actual detail made it more real, and therefore different.

What is the greatest misconception the general public has about security online, especially in this post-NSA revelations environment?

I think people believe that their data is more secure than it is.  And I’m not thinking about criminals and hackers, I’m thinking about the “good guys.”  Google knows when I stop thinking about it.  Google knows what related things I’m thinking about.  And Google knows that about everyone.  Google knows what kind of porn everyone likes. This kind of thing is inherently creepy, and people don’t think about it.

We don’t think about it because it’s not salient.  We don’t wake up in the morning and think “I’m going to carry a tracking device around with me today.”  We just grab our cellphone.  People don’t think about this data, who…

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After Scholarship After Snowden

Prerna Soni, a UPenn Law Student and Symposium Editor of the Journal of Business Law, reports on CGCS and Penn Law’s Scholarship After Snowden mini-conference which took place on October 17th

Ferret Cannon.  Egotistical Giraffe.  Bullrun.  These are not just nonsensical terms, but rather the names of a few of the surveillance tools used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor your online activity.  The discussion of Internet surveillance and the right to privacy has swept the U.S. by storm after the NSA exposé by Edward Snowden earlier this year. On October 17th a group of scholars and practitioners gathered at Penn to discuss what these revelations mean for the future of the academia and the Internet. Scholarship After Snowden proved to be a thought-provoking event.  Attendees were forced to reexamine the breadth of government surveillance, and to reevaluate the way the academy approaches technology education and policy going forward.

The mere scope of surveillance by the U.S. government is astounding – we are not talking about an email here, a chat history there. Everything that is done on the Internet is collected and stored as data.  As Bruce Schneier, a renowned cryptographer and privacy expert noted, “We leave digital footprints everywhere,” and the fundamental problem is that we have made surveillance far too easy and cheap. When surveillance and data storage is cheap, there is a tendency to store everything.  As Schneier aptly noted, when you have a great deal of money and resources, “when you have the choice of A or B, you do both.”  This problem is furthered by the fact that while many Internet users understand its basic mechanics, they do not really get what is going on “under the hood,” as Joseph Turow, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies…

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