Penn State Law student to present at cybersecurity conference in Washington

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Third year Penn State Law student Tom Brier will be the only student to present at an upcoming interdisciplinary conference on cybersecurity law and policy to be held at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs on Sept. 28 and 29.

Brier will present a paper examining the outcome of Microsoft Corp. v. United States, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit rejected the federal government’s argument that current law allows it to obtain data stored on servers overseas. Brier examines the ruling’s potential precedential impact on privacy, current U.S. law, international relations, and developing technology.

“We’re treading on uncharted territory when trying to apply a domestic statute to foreign-stored data, so this decision is really an impetus to Congressional action,” Brier said. “When the Electronically Stored Communications Act was enacted in 1986, none of the technology at issue in this case existed, so this is a clear signal to Congress to revise the statute.”

Brier will present alongside such luminaries as Professor David Clark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a critical role in the development of the internet, as well as numerous professors from across the country and multiple high-ranking officials with the Federal Communications Commission.

Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, who is also a Penn State Law adjunct professor and the keynote speaker for the conference, will serve as the respondent for Brier’s paper.

“I had the opportunity to take a seminar with Judge Vanaskie last fall after interning for him the previous summer, and now to be able to have him personally offer feedback on my paper is really incredible,” Brier said. “This entire experience will give me a unique perspective and level of knowledge in an area of law that is rapidly emerging and coming to the forefront of a host of pressing legal issues.”

“Legal and Policy Dimensions of Cybersecurity” is the 13th in a series of workshops organized by Penn State’s Institute for Information Policy in support of its Journal of Information Policy published with Penn State University Press, and is the first workshop to showcase a collaboration with Penn State Law.

Anne McKenna, a Penn State Law visiting assistant professor and expert in cyber and privacy law who helped organize the conference, said collaborative events like this are critical because the field of cybersecurity is highly interdisciplinary by nature and rapidly developing.

“When we talk about cybersecurity, both academically and from a technological perspective, the conversation often focuses on the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity,” said McKenna, who will speak at the event. “By injecting law into the discussion, we’re able to make sure that cybersecurity and online practices are developed and evolve in ways consistent with privacy law and broader constitutional concerns.”

Last Updated September 23, 2016