Joint CyLab/ School of Computer Science Distinguished Lecture
Rashid Auditorium 4401 - Gates Hillman Centers
CINDY COHN , Executive Director
The world is waking up to something that digital security experts have known for a very long time: Digital security is hard. Really hard. And the larger and more complex the systems, the more difficult it is to plug all the security holes and make them secure and trustworthy. Yet security is also increasingly important in systems ranging from the smartphones in our hands to our power grids. So why isn’t everyone—especially the governments of the Five Eyes countries—promoting, supporting, and celebrating important security work? In part, it’s because law enforcement in each of these countries wants to take advantage of the same security holes that criminals do—a result that puts us all at risk. Even worse, many of these governments are now pushing companies—both through both law and through nonlegal pressure—to ensure that any future technology that the public relies on continues to have security holes they (and criminals) can use. People with digital security skills, along with people developing the policy around security, should be working to encrypt the web, secure our data whether at rest or in transit, ensure our homes, cars and anything that can be connected to the internet are safe and trustworthy. They shouldn’t use those skills to undermine our security or try to find clever ways of undermining it just a little less.
Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel. Ms. Cohn first became involved with EFF in 1993, when EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. In 2018, Forbes included her as one of America's Top 50 Women in Tech. Ms. Cohn is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa and the London School of Economics. For 10 years prior to joining the EFF, she was a civil litigator in private practice handling technology- related cases. Before starting private practice, she worked for a year at the United Nations Centre for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Ms. Cohn also served as counsel to the plaintiffs in Bowoto v. Chevron, two lawsuits in San Francisco arising from Chevron's involvement in human rights abuses against environmental protesters in Nigeria. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Tor Project.
Faculty Host: Lorrie Cranor
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