AUWCL, SPA, and DOJ Present Symposium on Advancing Justice in Cyberspace

Feb. 6, 2020

 DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski
DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski.

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, American University Washington College of Law’s Tech, Law, and Security Program (TLS), along with the Department of Justice Criminal Division and AU’s School of Public Affairs, hosted “Justice in Cyberspace: A Symposium.”

The day-long event brought together members of law enforcement and the cybersecurity community, industry experts, advocacy groups, and various branches of government to examine the current challenges to preventing, investigating, and prosecuting cyber and cyber-related crimes. The four panels explored the impact of technology-related Supreme Court decisions such as Carpenter v. United States, the significance of transparency in data sharing, the role of big data in law enforcement, the balance of security and privacy, and the significance of privacy regulations and borderless evidence.

Visiting Professor Andrew Guthrie Ferguson moderated the symposium panel “Ensuring Safety and Protecting Privacy Amid Rapid Technological Change,” while Professor and TLS Director Jennifer Daskal shared her insights on the panel, “Obtaining Borderless Evidence,” moderated by Benjamin Fitzpatrick, senior counsel at the DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

“Many times law enforcement finds itself in situations in which key information that is needed to investigate, and/or prosecute crimes, is located outside of its borders, even when it’s the evidence related to a local witness, a local victim, a local perpetrator,” Daskal said.

A morning keynote conversation was held between Marianne Bailey, segment leader of cybersecurity at Guidehouse, Inc. and Robert Knake, the Whitney Shepardson Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The lunchtime keynote address was delivered by DOJ Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, with an introduction from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard W. Downing.

"Obtaining Borderless Evidence" panel.
"Obtaining Borderless Evidence" panel.

“Popular culture often depicts cyber criminals as individuals tapping away at a computer in some basement in some remote part of the world, but our experience tells us that the opposite is often true. The most serious threats we face are large, they’re organized, and they’re multinational in scope,” Benczkowski said. “They can, with mere clicks, target Americans with fraudulent schemes and thefts of money and intellectual property. They exploit the impediments created by national borders, and differences in legal systems.”

Benczkowski said the Department will continue to work to highlight these issues until solutions are reached that respect the rule of law and the Constitution.

“[A solution] that is reached by politically accountable policy makers tasked with balancing the important legal issues at stake, and not by Silicon Valley executives with their own financial and personal motivations,” he said.

Learn more about AUWCL’s new Tech, Law, and Security Program here.