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Who Do You Sue?

by Daphne Kellervia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

This essay closely examines the effect on free-expression rights when platforms such as Facebook or YouTube silence their users’ speech. The first part describes the often messy blend of government and private power behind many content removals, and discusses how the combination undermines users’ rights to challenge state action. The second part explores the legal minefield for users—or potentially, legislators—claiming a right to speak on major platforms. The essay contends that questions of state and private power are deeply intertwined. To understand and protect internet users’ rights, we must understand and engage with both.

The Important, Justifiable, And Constrained Role Of Nationality In Foreign Intelligence Surveillance

by Peter Swire, Jesse Woo, Deven R. Desaivia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

This article addresses whether governments ever have a justified basis for treating targets of surveillance differently, in any way, based on nationality. Topics include (1) three ways nationality can matter to surveillance; (2) reasons for stricter rules for law enforcement and domestic collection; (3) reasons for different rules based on the location of collection; (4) the universalist critique of surveillance laws based on nationality; and (5) reasons that can justify stricter surveillance rules based on nationality. Stricter protections are warranted because surveillance of nationals and others with a close connection to the domestic policy poses a special threat to the political opposition and free press of a country, both of which play crucial roles in limiting abuses of state power.

Flat Light

by Andrew Burt, Daniel E. Geer, Jr.via Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The world of information security has always had reference points – or ground truths – that, like physical features in a landscape, served as navigational features for practitioners and policymakers alike. As time has passed and the state of information security has become more uncertain, these features have eroded. As reference points, they are now either unhelpful (at best) or disinformative (at worst). A deep state of disorientation is now upon us - in privacy, in security, and beyond. This paper explains how we arrived at this point, and suggests what to do next.

2018 And Beyond

by John P. Carlin, David A. Newmanvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, November 12, 2018

Despite the assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and will continue this type of activity in the future, there has been little national action. This paper contends that the inaction partially stems from political and bureaucratic obstacles to preparing a US response to any future interference—including obstacles to overcoming public apathy, the concern that any measures taken might favor one political party, and federalism questions that arise whenever the federal government considers proposals affecting state election conduct. 

Fixing Social Media’s Grand Bargain

by Jack M. Balkinvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, October 15, 2018

To regulate social media, we should focus on its political economy: the nature of digital capitalism and how we pay for the digital public sphere. This political economy creates perverse incentives for social media companies—encouraging them to surveil, addict, and manipulate their end users and strike deals with third parties who will further manipulate them. Treating social media companies as public forums or public utilities is not the proper cure, but social media companies, whether they like it or not, do have public obligations. This essay focuses on one approach to dealing with the problems of social media: new fiduciary obligations that protect end user privacy and counteract social media companies’ bad incentives.

Tech Firms Are Not Sovereigns

by Andrew Keane Woodsvia Hoover Institution Press
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It is increasingly common to hear that the sovereigns that reign over the Internet are Internet firms—the companies that set user policies and wield enormous influence over the day-to-day functioning of the Internet. The user base of these firms can be larger than many countries. They have foreign policy teams and have even engaged in experiments with user-driven self-governance. In many ways, they look like states. But firms are not sovereigns.  Some public-facing Internet firms may find it expedient to resist some states, some of the time on some issues. But this does not mean that Internet firms are a serious and lasting threat to state sovereignty. Treating them as such is a distraction from the real problem: determining how and with what limits states—sovereign nations—ought to be able to achieve their aims online.

Advanced Persistent Manipulators And Social Media Nationalism

by Clint Watts via Hoover Institution Press
Monday, September 17, 2018

Social media platforms provide an unprecedented opportunity for influencing populations. Citizens in Western democracies spend a significant amount of time on social media platforms and—as their virtual connections increase in number and intensity—they’ve begun to form social media nations affecting real-world national security.  Moving forward, social media, as an industry, will face a range of advanced persistent manipulators (APM) seeking to infiltrate, harness, and shape the perspectives of social media nations. The challenge of APMs will create an enduring threat to user trust and confidence in social media platforms.

Platform Justice

by Danielle Citron, Quinta Jurecicvia Hoover Institution Press
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The role of dominant content platforms like Facebook and Twitter in facilitating Russian election interference in the 2016 US presidential election has precipitated a backlash against “big tech,” and now the pendulum is swinging toward greater regulation of platforms for what their users say and do. Read the Lawfare post here.

An Intelligence Reserve Corps To Counter Terrorist Use Of The Internet

by Daniel Bymanvia Lawfare
Friday, August 10, 2018

Never before in history have terrorists had such easy access to the minds and eyeballs of millions,” declared one journalistic account of the Islamic State’s propaganda machine and proficient use of Twitter, Facebook, bots, and other modern means of getting its message out.

Tech Giants At The Crossroads

by Jon D. Michaelsvia Hoover Institution Press
Monday, July 30, 2018

Major technology companies find themselves at the center of two critical and vexing conversations. First is the digital public square conversation: millions of citizen-consumers wholly depend on these companies’ goods, services, and platforms to remain socially, politically, and economically engaged. Second is the deputization conversation: those same companies are often obligated to facilitate or intensify state surveillance over citizen-consumers. Thinking about the two conversations in combination—and thus viewing the tech firms as both victims and perpetrators in inherently unequal, imbalanced relationships—presents opportunities for a grand regulatory bargain that fixes the pair of problematic links in the broader chain of private-public relations. 

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Aegis explores legal and policy issues at the intersection of technology and national security.  Published in partnership with the Lawfare Blog, it features long-form essays of the Hoover Institution National Security, Technology and Law Working Group (the Aegis Paper Series), examines major new books in the field, and carries podcasts and videos or the working group’s events in Washington and Stanford.