Data & Democracy Seminar
LAW 449 & DATA 380 (Cross-listed with Data Science)
This seminar will explore the legal and policy challenges posed by foreign and domestic threats to U.S. elections, threats that uniquely exploit our digital economy and information society. Foreign interference of U.S. elections and the Capitol attack of January 6, 2021, have both exposed unprecedented vulnerabilities and what federal oversight of election administration and voting systems may be necessary while still respecting federalism principles and state sovereignty. Exposed vulnerabilities include:
- widespread disinformation and misinformation campaigns;
- abuse of voter data and consumer data in psychographic profiling through voter manipulation and AI-driven voter microtargeting;
- underregulation of social media platforms and Internet governance; and
- shortcomings to national cybersecurity policy and the failure to develop effective cyber deterrents.
Multiple intelligence reports have described the foreign interference of U.S. elections as an “influence campaign” that blends covert cyber operations and overt propaganda operations. The course will explore how legal, policy and corporate reform efforts can be shaped by the emerging fields of cyber ethics and data ethics.
The seminar will include a close examination of the January 6 Report and intelligence reports, Special Counsel’s indictments, and other original source material to better understand the nature of interference and subversion in U.S. elections.
- Independent Legal Research: This course requires the completion of a short, ten-page, scholarly research paper on a subject selected by the student, under the supervision of a faculty member. Does not satisfy the writing requirement. Student's may earn an unlimited number of Independent Legal Research throughout their studies. Course is one credit hour and standard letter graded.
- Independent Legal Writing: An independent writing paper equivalent to a law review article (in excess of 20 pages); does not meet the upper level writing requirement. This course does not fulfill the second year writing requirement. Student's may earn no more than four Independent Legal Writing credits in total, or may enroll in this course and/or Law 705 no more than twice. Course earns two credit hours and is standard letter graded.