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Susan Landau

Susan Landau is a privacy analyst at Google. She was previously a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems, and has been a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Wesleyan University.
Landau has been a Guggenheim fellow, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and is a fellow of the American Association for the advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Titles by This Author

The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies

Digital communications are the lifeblood of modern society. We “meet up” online, tweet our reactions millions of times a day, connect through social networking rather than in person. Large portions of business and commerce have moved to the Web, and much of our critical infrastructure, including the electric power grid, is controlled online. This reliance on information systems leaves us highly exposed and vulnerable to cyberattack. Despite this, U.S. law enforcement and national security policy remain firmly focused on wiretapping and surveillance. But, as cybersecurity expert Susan Landau argues in Surveillance or Security?, the old surveillance paradigms do not easily fit the new technologies. By embedding eavesdropping mechanisms into communication technology itself, we are building tools that could be turned against us and opting for short-term security and creating dangerous long-term risks.

How can we get communications security right? Landau offers a set of principles to govern wiretapping policy that will allow us to protect our national security as well as our freedom.

The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption

Telecommunication has never been perfectly secure. The Cold War culture of recording devices in telephone receivers and bugged embassy offices has been succeeded by a post-9/11 world of NSA wiretaps and demands for data retention. Although the 1990s battle for individual and commercial freedom to use cryptography was won, growth in the use of cryptography has been slow. Meanwhile, regulations requiring that the computer and communication industries build spying into their systems for government convenience have increased rapidly. The application of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act has expanded beyond the intent of Congress to apply to voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other modern data services; attempts are being made to require ISPs to retain their data for years in case the government wants it; and data mining techniques developed for commercial marketing applications are being applied to widespread surveillance of the population.

In Privacy on the Line, Whitfield Diffie and Susan Landau strip away the hype surrounding the policy debate over privacy to examine the national security, law enforcement, commercial, and civil liberties issues. They discuss the social function of privacy, how it underlies a democratic society, and what happens when it is lost. This updated and expanded edition revises their original—and prescient—discussions of both policy and technology in light of recent controversies over NSA spying and other government threats to communications privacy.