POL 421: Cybercrime, Surveillance, and Privacy

This is a one-semester undergraduate seminar on cybercrime, surveillance, and privacy. While the development of the internet and related technologies have fundamentally transformed society, not all of these changes have been positive. In addition to facilitating rapid economic and social exchange, the internet has also transformed traditional methods of engaging in and investigating criminal actions, and enabled entirely new categories of illicit activities. Careful regulation of the internet can maximize social benefits while disincentivizing harmful activity. However, identifying, implementing, and evaluating these regulations requires a combination of technology and policy expertise, as well as the ability to engage with decisionmakers in both the public and private sector.

In this course, we will both explore the tools used to conduct policy analysis and apply those tools to a wide variety of cyber-related policy problems. The class will begin by exploring the engineering and infrastructure necessary to implement commonly-used consumer technologies such as telephones and the internet. We will then turn to the ways in which this technology can be used for harmful ends, including cyber crime, cyber terrorism, and cyber warfare. As the internet has also transformed the tools that can be used to counteract these harmful activities, we will then discuss electronic surveillance and the ways that electronic surveillance can challenge and complicate long-standing societal understandings of privacy. We will conclude with a series of case studies, where we will further investigate the topics learned in class by applying them to a series of contemporary policy issues.