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  1. Report that provides practical advice for bridging CS and Law in academia
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  2. This work examines privacy laws and regulations that limit disclosure of personal data, and explores whether and how these restrictions apply when participants use cryptographically secure multi-party computation (MPC). By protecting data during use, MPC offers the promise of conducting data science in a way that (in some use cases) meets or even exceeds most people’s conceptions of data privacy. With MPC, it is possible to correlate individual records across multiple datasets without revealing the underlying records, to conduct aggregate analysis across datasets which parties are otherwise unwilling to share for competitive reasons, and to analyze aggregate statistics across datasets which no individual party may lawfully hold. However, most adoptions of MPC to date involve data that is not subject to privacy protection under the law. We posit that a major impediment to the adoption of MPC—on the data that society has deemed most worthy of protection—is the difficulty of mapping this new technology onto the design principles of data privacy laws. While a computer scientist might reasonably believe that transforming any data analysis into its privacy-protective variant using MPC is a clear win, we show in this work that the technological guarantees of MPC do not directly imply compliancemore »with privacy laws. Specifically, a lawyer will likely want to ask several important questions about the pre-conditions that are necessary for MPC to succeed, the risk that data might inadvertently or maliciously be disclosed to someone other than the output party, and what recourse to take if this bad event occurs. We have two goals for this work: explaining why the privacy law questions are nuanced and that the lawyer is correct to proceed cautiously, and providing a framework that lawyers can use to reason systematically about whether and how MPC implicates data privacy laws in the context of a specific use case. Our framework revolves around three questions: a definitional question on whether the encodings still constitute ‘personal data,’ a process question about whether the act of executing MPC constitutes a data disclosure event, and a liability question about what happens if something goes wrong. We conclude by providing advice to regulators and suggestions to early adopters to spur uptake of MPC. It is our hope that this work provides the first step toward a methodology that organizations can use when contemplating the use of MPC.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  3. A central notion in U.S. copyright law is judging the substantial similarity between an original and an (allegedly) derived work. Capturing this notion has proven elusive, and the many approaches offered by case law and legal scholarship are often ill-defined, contradictory, or internally-inconsistent. This work suggests that key parts of the substantial-similarity puzzle are amendable to modeling inspired by theoretical computer science. Our proposed framework quantitatively evaluates how much "novelty" is needed to produce the derived work with access to the original work, versus reproducing it without access to the copyrighted elements of the original work. "Novelty" is captured by a computational notion of description length, in the spirit of Kolmogorov-Levin complexity, which is robust to mechanical transformations and availability of contextual information. This results in an actionable framework that could be used by courts as an aid for deciding substantial similarity. We evaluate it on several pivotal cases in copyright law and observe that the results are consistent with the rulings, and are philosophically aligned with the abstraction-filtration-comparison test of Altai.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  4. If a court knows that a respondent knows the password to a device, can the court compel the respondent to enter that password into the device? In this work, we propose a new approach to the foregone conclusion doctrine from Fisher v. U.S. that governs the answer to this question. The Holy Grail of this line of work would be a framework for reasoning about whether the testimony implicit in any action is already known to the government. In this paper we attempt something narrower. We introduce a framework for specifying actions for which all implicit testimony is, constructively, a foregone conclusion. Our approach is centered around placing the burden of proof on the government to demonstrate that it is not “rely[ing] on the truthtelling” of the respondent. Building on original legal analysis and using precise computer science formalisms, we propose demonstrability as a new central concept for describing compelled acts. We additionally provide a language for whether a compelled action meaningfully entails the respondent to perform in a manner that is “as good as” the government’s desired goal. Then, we apply our definitions to analyze the compellability of several cryptographic primitives including decryption, multifactor authentication, commitment schemes, and hashmore »functions. In particular, our framework reaches a novel conclusion about compelled decryption in the setting that the encryption scheme is deniable: the government can compel but the respondent is free to use any password of her choice.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
  5. We model and analyze the Signal end-to-end messaging protocol within the UC framework. In particular: - We formulate an ideal functionality that captures end-to-end secure messaging, in a setting with PKI and an untrusted server, against an adversary that has full control over the network and can adaptively and momentarily compromise parties at any time and obtain their entire internal states. In particular our analysis captures the forward secrecy and recovery-of-security properties of Signal and the conditions under which they break. - We model the main components of the Signal architecture (PKI and long-term keys, the backbone continuous-key-exchange or "asymmetric ratchet," epoch-level symmetric ratchets, authenticated encryption) as individual ideal functionalities that are realized and analyzed separately and then composed using the UC and Global-State UC theorems. - We show how the ideal functionalities representing these components can be realized using standard cryptographic primitives under minimal hardness assumptions. Our modeling introduces additional innovations that enable arguing about the security of Signal irrespective of the underlying communication medium, as well as secure composition of dynamically generated modules that share state. These features, together with the basic modularity of the UC framework, will hopefully facilitate the use of both Signal-as-a-whole and its individualmore »components within cryptographic applications. Two other features of our modeling are the treatment of fully adaptive corruptions, and making minimal use of random oracle abstractions. In particular, we show how to realize continuous key exchange in the plain model, while preserving security against adaptive corruptions.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  6. End-to-end encryption provides strong privacy protections to billions of people, but it also complicates efforts to moderate content that can seriously harm people. To address this concern, Tyagi et al. [CRYPTO 2019] introduced the concept of asymmetric message franking (AMF) so that people can report abusive content to a moderator, while otherwise retaining end-to-end privacy by default and compatibility with anonymous communication systems like Signal’s sealed sender. In this work, we provide a new construction for asymmetric message franking called Hecate that is faster, more secure, and introduces additional functionality compared to Tyagi et al. First, our construction uses fewer invocations of standardized crypto primitives and operates in the plain model. Second, on top of AMF’s accountability and deniability requirements, we also add forward and backward secrecy. Third, we combine AMF with source tracing, another approach to content moderation that has previously been considered only in the setting of non-anonymous networks. Source tracing allows for messages to be forwarded, and a report only identifies the original source who created a message. To provide anonymity for senders and forwarders, we introduce a model of AMF with preprocessing whereby every client authenticates with the moderator out-of-band to receive a token that theymore »later consume when sending a message anonymously.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  7. We propose a new theoretical approach for building anonymous mixing mechanisms for cryptocurrencies. Rather than requiring a fully uniform permutation during mixing, we relax the requirement, insisting only that neighboring permutations are similarly likely. This is defined formally by borrowing from the definition of differential privacy. This relaxed privacy definition allows us to greatly reduce the amount of interaction and computation in the mixing protocol. Our construction achieves O(n * polylog(n)) computation time for mixing n addresses, whereas all other mixing schemes require O(n^2) total computation across all parties. Additionally, we support a smooth tolerance of fail-stop adversaries and do not require any trusted setup. We analyze the security of our generic protocol under the UC framework, and under a stand-alone, game-based definition. We finally describe an instantiation using ring signatures and confidential transactions.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  8. This paper studies Byzantine reliable broadcast (BRB) under asynchronous networks, and improves the state-of-the-art protocols from the following aspects. Near-optimal communication cost: We propose two new BRB protocols for n nodes and input message M that has communication cost O(n|M| +n^2 log n), which is near-optimal due to the lower bound of Ω(n|M| +n^2). The first BRB protocol assumes threshold signature but is easy to understand, while the second BRB protocol is error-free but less intuitive. Improved computation: We propose a new construction that improves the computation cost of the state-of-the-art BRB by avoiding the expensive online error correction on the input message, while achieving the same communication cost. Balanced communication: We propose a technique named balanced multicast that can balance the communication cost for BRB protocols where the broadcaster needs to multicast the message M while other nodes only needs to multicast coded fragments of size O(|M|/n + log n). The balanced multicast technique can be applied to many existing BRB protocols as well as all our new constructions in this paper, and can make every node incur about the same communication cost. Finally, we present a lower bound to show the near optimality of our protocol in termsmore »of communication cost at each node.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  9. The information security community has devoted substantial effort to the design, development, and universal deployment of strong encryption schemes that withstand search and seizure by computationally-powerful nation-state adversaries. In response, governments are increasingly turning to a different tactic: issuing subpoenas that compel people to decrypt devices themselves, under the penalty of contempt of court if they do not comply. Compelled decryption subpoenas sidestep questions around government search powers that have dominated the Crypto Wars and instead touch upon a different (and still unsettled) area of the law: how encryption relates to a person's right to silence and against self-incrimination. In this work, we provide a rigorous, composable definition of a critical piece of the law that determines whether cryptosystems are vulnerable to government compelled disclosure in the United States. We justify our definition by showing that it is consistent with prior court cases. We prove that decryption is often not compellable by the government under our definition. Conversely, we show that many techniques that bolster security overall can leave one more vulnerable to compelled disclosure. As a result, we initiate the study of protecting cryptographic protocols against the threat of future compelled disclosure. We find that secure multi-party computation ismore »particularly vulnerable to this threat, and we design and implement new schemes that are provably resilient in the face of government compelled disclosure. We believe this work should influence the design of future cryptographic primitives and contribute toward the legal debates over the constitutionality of compelled decryption.« less
  10. Ligett, Katrina ; Gupta, Swati (Ed.)
    The 2020 Decennial Census will be released with a new disclosure avoidance system in place, putting differential privacy in the spotlight for a wide range of data users. We consider several key applications of Census data in redistricting, developing tools and demonstrations for practitioners who are concerned about the impacts of this new noising algorithm called TopDown. Based on a close look at reconstructed Texas data, we find reassuring evidence that TopDown will not threaten the ability to produce districts with tolerable population balance or to detect signals of racial polarization for Voting Rights Act enforcement.