Don't Panic: Making Progress on the "Going Dark" Debate

U. Gasser, M. G. Olsen, N. Gertner, D. Renan, J. Goldsmith, J. Sanchez, S. Landau, B. Schneier, J. Nye, L. Schwartztol, D. R. O’Brien, and J. Zittrain

Berkman Center Report, February 1, 2016.


Just over a year ago, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University convened a diverse group of security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community to begin to work through some of the particularly vexing and enduring problems of surveillance and cybersecurity.

The group came together understanding that there has been no shortage of debate. Our goals were to foster a straightforward, non-talking-point exchange among people who do not normally have a chance to engage with each other and then to contribute in meaningful and concrete ways to the discourse on these issues.

A public debate unfolded alongside our meetings: the claims and questions around the government finding a landscape that is "going dark" due to new forms of encryption introduced into mainstream consumer products and services by the companies who offer them. We have sought to distill our conversations and some conclusions in this report. The participants in our group who have signed on to the report, as listed on the following page, endorse "the general viewpoints and judgments reached by the group, though not necessarily every finding and recommendation." In addition to endorsing the report, some signatories elected to individually write brief statements, which appear in Appendix A of the report and also as individual posts on, written by Jonathan Zittrain, Bruce Schneier, and Susan Landau.

Our participants who are currently employed full-time by government agencies are precluded from signing on because of their employment, and nothing can or should be inferred about their views from the contents of the report. We simply thank them for contributing to the group discussions.

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