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Talk: Cryptography for verifiable governance

Sarah Scheffler: Postdoctoral Researcher, Princeton University, Center for Information Technology Policy 

Event Details

Tuesday, April 25, 2023
4-5 p.m.


Abstract: Transparency is a key facet of all democracies: using law, policy, and technology, democratic systems of governance ensure that the public never relies on blind faith in governors.  My interdisciplinary research uses cryptography alongside policy to bake verifiability into governance systems – not only for government, but also for other decision-makers like tech companies and algorithms.  In this talk I will first discuss my research on transparency in content moderation under encryption, where I identified policy challenges in content moderation systems and built technical safeguards to prevent them from being abused and expanded into mass surveillance. Second, I will describe my cryptographic modeling of court-compelled decryption, and how it led to a novel legal insight. Finally, I will conclude by discussing the upcoming challenges of programmatic governance, and describe how my work is well-suited to develop technical and policy standards for verifiability and privacy in an increasingly interconnected future.

Bio: Sarah Scheffler is a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy.  She researches cryptographic protocols that build transparency in systems of governance, especially by using zero-knowledge proofs and multi party computation.  Sarah received her Ph.D. in computer science in 2021 from Boston University.