Digital Social Contract

“The Digital Social Contract” paper series explores the role of changing technology and non-government actors in driving social, legal, and political change. It features long-form research papers and podcast interviews focusing on the relationship between governments, technology companies, and citizens.

Image credit: "VR Justice" by Claudio Rousselon is licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Latest in Digital Social Contract

Digital Social Contract

Content Moderation Tools to Stop Extremism

Technology companies are more active than ever in trying to stop terrorists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and other hateful individuals, organizations, and movements from exploiting their platforms, but government and public pressure to do more is growing. This paper presents a range of content moderation options for technology companies, discussing how they work in practice, their advantages, and their limits and risks.


The Lawfare Podcast: Mary Anne Franks on Section 230

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 immunizes platforms for the behavior of their users. It's been called by some the Magna Carta of the internet—but how foundational is it? Mary Anne Franks, a professor of law and Dean's Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami, thinks that Section 230 is indeed a cornerstone of the modern internet, but not in a good way.


The Lawfare Podcast: Jeff Kosseff on the Fight Against Online Child Pornography

Private entities—in particular, technology giants like internet service providers, email services and social networks—play a vital role in helping law enforcement fight child pornography online. But the involvement of private entities does not eliminate the Fourth Amendment issues that come with electronic surveillance. In fact, the more the private entities cooperate with the government, the more likely it is that courts will consider them government agents, and the evidence they collect will be subject to the same Fourth Amendment restrictions as apply to law enforcement agencies.

Digital Social Contract

Online Service Providers and the Fight Against Child Exploitation: The Fourth Amendment Agency Dilemma

The Fourth Amendment government agency problem requires platforms to walk a fine—and sometimes untenable—line in searching for private user content that contains child sex abuse material and other illegal material.


The Lawfare Podcast: Jane Bambauer and Brian Ray on the Lost Promise of Digital Contact Tracing

In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology was touted as a potential savior. In particular, there was a burst of enthusiasm around so-called digital contact tracing apps, which would track people's movements and interactions and notify them if they had been exposed to COVID. Apple and Google, which together control the operating systems for virtually the entire smartphone market, joined forces and created a standard to help researchers, private entities and governments create contact tracing apps.

Digital Social Contract

COVID-19 Apps Are Terrible—They Didn't Have to Be

COVID-19 apps in the United States have been ineffective as public health tools because they are designed primarily to protect privacy. Poor design choices, effectively mandated by Google and Apple, were driven by ongoing consumer privacy and national security debates that shortsightedly rejected tracking technologies.


The Lawfare Podcast: Yaya Fanusie on 'Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Threat From Money Launderers and How to Stop Them'

Alan Rozenshtein sat down with Yaya Fanusie, a former CIA analyst and an expert on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies, who recently published a paper as part of Lawfare's ongoing Digital Social Contract research paper series, entitled, "Central Bank Digital Currencies: The Threat From Money Launderers and How to Stop Them." They talked about how

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