Category Archives: Legal

[Video 449] Ron Rivest: Keys Under Doormats — Mandating Insecurity by Requiring Government Access to All Data and Communications

In the last few days, the question of encryption, and whether governments can and should force companies to reveal customers’ data, has become big news. Apple has announced that they will not make it possible for the US government to read the contents of a terrorist’s iPhone, even thought that might provide clues to the shooting in which they participated, and to others connected to that crime. But is it a wise idea to give government access to all of our data and our communications? What implications does this have for government, for technology, for privacy, and for democracy? In this talk, Ron Rivest describes these issues, and considers whether granting such access to governments is more or less secure.

[Video 441] Vanessa Teague: Verification, Auditing, and Evidence — If We Didn’t Notice Anything Wrong…

Elections are a big deal in democratic countries — and people often wonder why they cannot yet vote on the Internet, or why voting cannot be more heavily computerized. But of course, there are many reasons for this, among them issues of security, verification, and privacy. Researchers have been thinking about these problems for quite some time, considering how we might be able to make electronic voting more secure, verifiable, and private than is current the case. In this talk, Vanessa Teague describes some of the technical challenges, and potential solutions, associated with electronic voting.

Time: 21m

[Video 434] Felix Domke & Daniel Lange: The exhaust emissions scandal (“Dieselgate”)

As you might have heard, Volkswagen was recently caught in quite a scandal: Its diesel-powered cars would report one (legal, standard) pollution number when the car was being inspected, but quite another number (illegal and nonstandard) when it was actually being driven and on the road. This scandal, sometimes called “Dieselgate,”  has had many implications for VW as a company, and for the car industry in general, But how did VW manage to fool so many people for so long? What did the car’s software and hardware do (and not do) in order to trick emissions inspectors? In this talk, Felix Domke and Daniel Lange report what they have each found, providing us with a fascinating introduction into the intersection of cars, computers, regulations, and scandals.

Time: 1:05

[Video 303] Brenda Wallace: Copyright

To many people, open-source software is free of charge, and without any restrictions or licenses. But of course, open source (and its close cousin, free software) can only exist thanks to licenses, and copyright laws.  But wait — is software like a movie, a book, a machine, or none of these?  Or all of these?  What laws apply?  Hhow do they affect us, and what do they mean for the permissions we need in order to use, copy, and modify software?  What do open-source licenses mean to us as users, and developers?  And why is there so much confusion regarding licenses? In this talk, Brenda Wallace introduces us to the ideas of copyright, and to some of the murky aspects of copyright that software developers should understand, particularly if they’re contributing to open source.