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CITP Virtual Lunch Seminar: Seny Kamara – Cryptography for Privacy and Policy

Tuesday, April 21, 2020
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Please click here to register for this webinar.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This virtual talk is being co-sponsored by CITP and the Department of Computer Science. It is open only to Princeton University faculty, staff, and students. 

As our lives become increasingly digital and we produce more and more data, we are witnessing several conflicting trends. On one hand, these massive datasets are becoming more intrusive and privacy-sensitive and on the other they are becoming harder to protect. This is illustrated by the constant occurrence of data breaches in almost every industry and sector.  One of the best tools at our disposal for enforcing data privacy and security is end-to-end encryption where only the data owner hold the encryption key. While end-to end encryption is already deployed in messaging and video calling apps, its widespread adoption is severely limited because it breaks the utility of critical technologies like databases, cloud computing and machine learning.

In this talk, Seny will describe his work designing, analyzing and cryptanalyzing efficient algorithms and systems that operate on end-to-end encrypted data.  He will discuss the advances he and his collaborators have made on these problems over the last fifteen years based on ideas from a variety of fields including cryptography, algorithms, data structures, complexity theory, machine learning and databases. In addition to the technological impact of these advances, societal implications will be discussed which range from (potentially) expanding Law Enforcement’s “Going Dark” problem to enabling new policy trade-offs.


Seny Kamara is an associate professor of computer science at Brown University, where he directs the Encrypted Systems Lab and is affiliated with the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies. Prior to joining Brown, he was a research scientist at Microsoft Research in the Cryptography Research group. At Brown, he conducts research in cryptography with a focus on problems motivated by social and policy issues.

In 2016, he was appointed by the National Academies of Sciences to study the
impact of end-to-end encryption on law enforcement and intelligence agencies
and in 2019 he testified to the U.S. House of Representative about the privacy
and fairness implications of Big Data. He has received a Google Faculty Award
and was named a Leadership Fellow by the Boston Global Forum for his work and commitment to global peace.