Internet Security Technology, Policy, and Law

Spring 2017, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Instructor: Bruce Schneier


In our information-age society, Internet security has become a paramount concern and an increasingly broad area of public policy. From cybercrime to national security, from corporate data collection to government surveillance, from cell phones to driverless cars, issues of Internet security are everywhere. These issues are complex and multifaceted, touching on such things as personal freedom and autonomy, public safety, corporate behavior and profitability, international relations, and war. This course seeks to explore the complex interplay of public policy issues in computer and Internet security. In the first half of the course, we will survey the nature of Internet security threats, explore the human factors surrounding security, and seek to understand the basics of Internet security technologies. In the second half, we will take our newfound expertise and use it to examine a series of computer- and Internet-security policy issues, both current and near-future. Examples include government demands for encryption back doors, software liabilities, hate speech and radical speech, digital copyright, surveillance reform, and computer-crime law. While these issues will primarily be US-focused, we will also discuss relevant issues in the EU and China, as well as international tensions and norms. Cyberspace is fundamentally technological, and an area where public policy requires a firm understanding of the underlying technologies. Security is no exception. While this class assumes no computer science background and will make these technologies comprehensible to the layperson, there is a strong technological component to this class.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.