“The Cyber” Part IV: Are There Appropriate Ethical Limits on Hacking?

How far is too far? We’ve been asking this question over and over again at CDT while conducting interviews of security researchers and in drafting CDT’s new white paper that surveys “hard questions” in the world of computer security research. Through these conversations, we are developing a basic set of ethical spectra – essentially, axes along which security research activities become more or less ethically questionable. In this white paper, we note a few possible options for better mapping the ethical landscape of the security research world.

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Serious Privacy Risks Lie in the Path of Vehicle Automation

Yesterday, CDT joined four top cryptography and security experts in raising serious privacy concerns with proposed next-generation vehicle-to-vehicle communication standards. We call for this system to be explicitly opt-in or for the design to be significantly reconsidered so as to avoid the problems we identify. There are some promising tools from applied cryptography that could be leveraged to design a system that would impact driver and passenger privacy to a much lesser extent.

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Putting Problems at the Copyright Office in Perspective

Last Monday, an audit report from the Office of the Inspector General at the Library of Congress (LOC) was leaked to the public by Techdirt. The report found that the Copyright Office (USCO) mismanaged efforts to modernize its systems and that the Office failed to notify both the LOC and Congress regarding the scope of the subsequent problems. It is clear that Congress must reevaluate its current approach to copyright reform and pursue measures that will directly address the shortcomings at USCO; CDT believes that Congress should reconsider efforts to curtail Hayden’s authority and instead work with the LOC to implement reforms that will improve the copyright system for rightsholders and users alike.

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German Proposal Threatens Censorship on Wide Array of Online Services

Anticipating federal elections in September, Germany’s Minister of Justice has proposed a new law aimed at limiting the spread of hate speech and “fake news” on social media sites. But the proposal, called the “Social Network Enforcement Bill” or “NetzDG,” goes far beyond a mere encouragement for social media platforms to respond quickly to hoaxes and disinformation campaigns and would create massive incentives for companies to censor a broad range of speech. CDT recommends that the German legislature reject this proposed measure. It clearly impinges on fundamental rights to free expression and due process.

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Data Portability’s Potential and Promise

In collaboration with the Bertelsmann Foundation, CDT is releasing a paper that explores how legal regimes founded on principles of individual control (that is, a person having some say in what happens to their data) have fared in the big data world. We examine legal frameworks in the United States, the European Union, and Germany to understand how their approaches have been challenged by big data. We also shine a light on the public’s view of their own control in big data products and services, and reflect on how these views differ in the US and abroad.

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EC Proposal to Pay with Personal Data Could Undermine Privacy and Harm the Online Ecosystem

If data is the new oil of the digital economy, as is often said, consumers are the fossilized organic source; that is, while consumers provide the crude data, it is businesses that turn data into a valuable asset. The question of how to balance the rights of businesses and consumers in managing this digital resource is at the heart of a proposed Directive on contracts for the supply of digital content, otherwise known as the Digital Contracts Directive (DCD).

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