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Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies

Date & Time:
April 4, 2013 | 3:00 pm
ICT 516
Susan Landau, PhD


The United States has moved large portions of business and commerce, including the control of critical infrastructure, onto   IP-based networks. This reliance on information systems leaves the U.S. highly exposed and vulnerable to cyberattack, yet U.S. law enforcement remains focused on building wiretapping systems within communications infrastructure. In embedding eavesdropping mechanisms into communications technology itself, we are building tools that could easily be turned against us. Indeed, such attacks have already occurred. In a world that has Al-Qaeda, nation-state economic espionage, and Hurricane Katrina, how do we get communications security right?


Susan Landauan Landau works in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and public policy. Landau was a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, and has been a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Wesleyan University. She has held visiting positions at Harvard, Cornell, and Yale, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Landau is the author of Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies (MIT Press, 2011), and co-author, with Whiteld Die, of Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption (MIT Press, 1998, rev. ed. 2007). She has written numerous computer science and public policy papers, as well as op-eds on cybersecurity and encryption policy.

She has testified to Congress on wiretapping and cybersecurity issues, and has briefed legislators in Europe and the US on various cybersecurity concerns, including encrytption, surveillance, and digital-rights management. Landau serves on the Computer Science Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, and has been a member of the advisory committee for the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, and on NIST's Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board. Landau was a 2012 Guggenheim fellow, a fellow at the Radclie Institute for Advanced Study, the recipient of the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award, and a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery. She received her BA from Princeton, her MS from Cornell, and her PhD from MIT.

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