Friday, March 31, 2017

Laura DeNardis Speaks on Internet Governance

Dr. Laura DeNardis, Professor at the American University School of Communications and former Executive Director of the Information Society Project, spoke to YLS students on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Dr. DeNardis’s talk, titled “Rethinking Internet Freedom in the Age of Cyber Control,” focused on today’s challenges in internet governance and the ways to overcome them.

DeNardis discussed the trend of embedding Internet connectivity features in daily objects—like thermostats, kitchen appliances, vehicles, and less obvious items like denim jackets and toys. These objects are referred to as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and due to their unsecure nature, represent an attack vector which threatens the stability of the Internet. Recently, an “army” of vulnerable IoT devices enabled the distributed denial-of-service attack on the DNS provider Dyn, disrupting access to a host of online services and platforms, like Twitter and Netflix. Per DeNardis, governments do not have an incentive to address this major vulnerability, since some of them benefit from exercising their power through this attack vector. 

DeNardis argued that too many experts and policymakers focus on the regulation of content online, rather than dealing with the more pressing issues of infrastructure and security. A few possible solutions were proposed by DeNardis, including government regulation, a multi stakeholder approach, or possible fragmentation of cyberspace to address the growing number of unsecure IoT devices.

The talk was co-sponsored by the Center for Global Legal Challenges and the Information Society Project.