Digital Equilibrium Project Looks to Balance Privacy, Security

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2016-02-23 Print this article Print
Digital Equilibrium Project

The current public debate between the privacy of Apple users and the security needs of the FBI has brought the issue to the mainstream consciousness this week, and as such, the Digital Equilibrium Project is very timely. That said, the Digital Equilibrium Project itself isn't likely to actually solve the Apple-FBI dispute.

"Our work would not by itself solve the dispute any more than the U.S. Constitution provides specific laws for specific crimes," Coviello said. "Our work would provide the shared beliefs, guiding principles and similar constructs to provide the common ground where these disputes can be resolved productively."

Overall today, the problem is there is no common ground for discussion, which is why there are such polarized, entrenched positions, according to Coviello. Fundamentally, the belief and the promise of the Digital Equilibrium Project is that a balance can actually be achieved between privacy and security, but for it to happen, it requires new thinking from the ground up.

"All sides have been arguing based on their own biased views for years now," he said. "The result is less privacy and less security. It's time for a new approach."

Coviello added the problem is too complex to make progress without breaking it down into subsegments. By breaking down the problem, having open minds, and creating frameworks that provide flexibility and allow for ongoing change, the hope is that the current situation can be improved.

The first goal of the Digital Equilibrium group is to change the public debate immediately and get more focus on the underlying issues and not the news of the day.

"The longer-term goal is to bring the parties together to create that common ground and provide that 'constitution' the set of shared beliefs, principles and norms that can frame our decision-making, policy-making and dispute resolution," he said.

Besides Coviello, those involved in the Digital Equilibrium Project include Stewart Baker, formerly the first Assistant Secretary of Department of Homeland Security General Counsel of the National Security Agency (NSA); Tim Belcher, former CTO of RSA; Jim Bidzos, chairman and CEO of Verisign; Dr. Ann Cavoukian, executive director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute at Ryerson University; Larry Clinton, president and CEO of the Internet Security Alliance; Michael Chertoff, executive chairman of The Chertoff Group and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Richard Clarke, former White House adviser and now chairman and CEO of Good Harbor Security Risk Management; Edward Davis, former Boston Police Department commissioner; Brian Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer at Veracode; J. Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals; John Michael McConnell, former director of the NSA and director of National Intelligence; Nuala O'Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology; and JR Williamson, corporate chief information officer at Northrup Grumman.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


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