Daniel J. Weitzner

Founding Director, MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative (IPRI)
3Com Founders Senior Research Scientist, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (CSAIL)

 

 
About
Welcome to my homepage. My major activity is running the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative, a disciplinary effort producing technically-grounded research to address critical Internet public policy questions such as privacy, information accountability, cybersecurity, surveillance, network management, and trustworthy AI systems. Here you can find short descriptions and publications from my own major research projects, recent publications in the popular press, assorted videos, and information about my outside professional service and consulting.
 
 
 
Research Areas
My current areas of interest including work on privacy and data governance, leading the MIT Future of Data Initiative, as well as cybersecurity risk measurement, leading the SCRAM project. 
         
During the pandemic, I did a lot of work on the policy and technology aspects of Privacy Preserving Digital Contact Tracing with the MIT PACT project, emphasizing privacy and civil liberties policy and technology design. This work with many colleagues was a primary contribution to the design of the Apple-Google Covid-19 Exposure Notification service deployed around the work on Apple iOS and Google Android to hundreds of millions of users.
 
More broadly, I work on the following topics:
 
Accountable Systems: How can we make the information systems we use more accountable to privacy and other rules that they are supposed to be following. In Information Accountability we defined what it means for a system to be accountable, built some examples, and more recently developed a cryptographic technique for Practical Accountability of Secret Processes.
 
Encryption and Surveillance: What should technology designers and policy makers do about the fact that end-to-end encryption is essential to cybersecurity but also increases the difficulty of certain law enforcement investigations. We investigated the technical risks of exceptional access systems in Keys Under Doormats and then explored some of the challenges of working across the legal and technical domains in On the incommensurability of laws and technical mechanisms: Lessons for encryption and surveillance.
 
HCI and Privacy: In designing systems and laws to protect privacy, we really should know more about how individual users react to different privacy contexts. When does this behavior change? Where are there chilling effects? We’ve been studying what shapes users privacy choices and indicators that might help users make informed decisions (not that consent is ever a complete privacy solution).
 
Election Security: I’ve recently done some work with two amazing students, Mike Specter and Jimmy Koppel, The Ballot is Busted Before the Blockchain: A Security Analysis of Voatz, the First Internet Voting Application Used in US Federal Elections, which got enough public attention that at least one state deciding to drop the insecure app. 
 
Internet Policy: I did some work on early Freedom of Expression frameworks for the Internet (when it was simpler) and am interested in what we can learn from current Internet policy for challenges ahead.
 
Some More Popular, General-Audience Writing:
Congressional Testimony (Selected):
· United States House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Hearing on “Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives” ­­ April 19, 2016.
· United States House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Do Not Track Privacy Legislation, 2 December 2010.
· United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Human Rights Challenges Facing the Technology Industry, 2 March 2010.
Popular Press (Selected):
· Rulemaking and its discontents: Moving from principle to practice in federal privacy legislation, Brookings Techtank, June 5, 2019. (with Cameron Kerry)
· Perspectives on Encryption and Surveillance, Lawfare Special Series, November 29, 2018.
· How Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and Other Privacy Abuses Could Have Been Prevented, Lawfare, April 4, 2018.
· Ted Cruz is wrong about how free speech is censored on the Internet, Washington Post, September 20, 2016 (with Tim Berners-Lee)
· Encryption solution in wake of Paris should come from Washington not Silicon Valley, Washington Post, November 24, 2015
· Foreign Policy of the Internet, Washington Post, July 14, 2011 (with Karen Kornbluh)
Videos (Selected):
· CSPAN Communicators and the State of the Net Conference (January 2019)
· Ford Foundation, Privacy and Policy: A New School of Thought, Public Internet Technology Series (February 2019) Boston
Speeches and Slides (Selected):
· U.S. Privacy Legislation: Now Is The Time. Keynote, Boston Bar Association Privacy and Cybersecurity Annual Conference (May 2018)
· Data Governance Challenges: Earning Trust with Users, Customers and Governments Around the World Fujitsu Laboratories Advanced Technology Symposium 2019 [slides]


 
Teaching
· 6.4590 (formerly 6.805): Foundations of Internet Policy
· 6.S978: Privacy Legislation Law and Technology (joint between MIT and Georgetown Law School. Profs. Bedoya, Moy and Vladeck)
· STS.S91/16.S498: IAP 2020: AI Technology, Policy, and Society: Priorities, Opportunities, and Trade-Offs
· MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, periodic curriculum and lecture contributions to 11.074/11.274, Cybersecurity Clinic, Prof. Lawrence Susskind

Students
· Current: Kevin Liao (EECS PhD & Harvard JD), Nicola Lawfard (TPP SM), Lisa Baer (TPP SM), Chelsea Conard (TPP SM)
· Alumni: Mike Specter (EECS PhD 2022) -> Georgia Tech, Jonathan Frankle (EECS PhD 2023), Sukhi Gulati (TPP SM 2023) Nic Rothbacher (TPP & EECS S.M.), Grace Abuhamad, Michael Specter, TPP S.M, EECS S.M 9/2014 – 6/2016, Elizabeth Dethy (EECS M.Eng), Amn Rahman, TPP S.M 9/2014 – 6/2016, Ryan Wagner, M.Eng 9/2003 – 6/2004, Harvey Jones, M.Eng.
 
Professional Service (Selected)
· General Chair (2024, 2022), Program Co-chair (2019). ACM Symposium on Computer Science and Law (2019, 2022, 2024)
· Co-Chair, EU-US Privacy Bridges Project, University of Amsterdam, MIT, Dutch Data Protection · Commission, International Data Protection Commissioners Convention (2013 – 2016)
· Computing Community Consortium (CCC), Privacy Research Agenda Workshops and Report
· Member, National Academy of Sciences Study Committee on Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and Other National Goals (2006 – 2008)
· Member, National Academy of Sciences Study Committee on Authentication Technologies and their Privacy Implications (2000 – 2003)

Outside Activities: Board Service, Consulting
· Founding Board Member, Web Science Trust (2006-present)
· Board Member, International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC) (2020-present)
· Founder and Member, Board of Directors, Center for Democracy and Technology (1998 – 2009, 2013-16)
· Founding Member, Board of Directors, Software Freedom Law Center (2005 – 2009, 2017-)
· Founding Member, Board of Directors, Congressional Internet Caucus Academy & Internet Education Foundation (1998 – 2009)
· Ethyca outside advisor (compensated)
· Palantir Privacy and Civil Liberties Advisory Committee (2014 – 2022, compensated)
· Scientific Advisory Board Member, Duality Technologies (compensated)
· Advisory Board Member, Consumer Reports Digital Lab Advisory Council, (2019-present)
· Privacy Advisor, Cambridge Mobile Telematics (2020-2023) (compensated)
 
Jobs I’ve Held Outside MIT:
· Deputy Director and Senior Staff Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation (1991-1994)

· Co-Founder and Deputy Director, Center for Democracy and Technology (1994-1998)
· Technology and Society Domain Lead, World Wide Web Consortium (1998 – 2004)
· Associate Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, US Department of Commerce (2009-2010)
· White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy (2011-2012)

Learn more
· Full Bio
· CV
· Photo
 
Contact:
· Email: <weitzner at mit.edu>
· LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/djweitzner/
· Assistant: Cynthia Rosenthal (crosenth@csail.mit.edu)
· Address: 32 Vassar St, 32-G526, Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
· Finding my office at MIT: Enter the MIT Stata building and take the elevator in the Gates tower to the fifth floor. Upon exiting the elevator, take a right. When you see office number 523, take another right. My office will be the last one on your left.D