A Conversation with Susan Landau

08 November 2019

Author: Paula Grzegorzewska

On 7 November OpenForum Europe hosted the event A Conversation With Susan Landau, a renowned professor of Cyber Security and Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Visiting Professor at the University College London, Inductee to the Cybersecurity Hall of Fame and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She discussed encryption, law enforcement access and metadata together with Joris van Hoboken, Professor of Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) and a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam, and the moderator, Achim Klabunde, Adviser to the Supervisors on Data Protection and Technology.

Susan Landau shared her experience working on the Carnegie report (you can find the Key Policy Takeaways here). The report was a result of deliberations of the Encryption Working Group, in which Susan worked together with other experts to develop ways to evaluate the societal impact of law enforcement access to encrypted data, with a focus on mobile phone encryption and device security.

The issues tackled during the event included the differences in law enforcement access in the USA and various Member States of the EU and the importance of creating cybersecurity solutions that are non-discriminatory and interoperable. Susan described the insights that can be drawn from metadata alone and how these can be as substantial as the actual content of, for instance, a phone call or a message. Joris van Hoboken talked about the human rights approaches to encryption, the European perspective on discussed issues and difficulties in ensuring implementation of all provisions comprised by legal files, such as the GDPR.

The discussants agreed that we need to acknowledge technological change and how it affects the processes in governmental agencies. Different approaches to privacy and security, institutional culture and the operational constraints to implementing relevant policies add to the complexity of the cybersecurity landscape and law enforcement access.

If you want to know more, take a look at “Listening in”, Susan Landau’s book about the urgency of securing our private devices and networks, and “Low-Hanging Fruit: Evidence-Based Solutions to the Digital Evidence Challenge”, a report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies that Susan recommended during the event.