National Security Institute Publishes New Law and Policy Paper as part of NSI 2020: Techlash and National Security — The Need for U.S. Leadership on Privacy, Encryption, and Security

July 29, 2020
Contact: Taylor Nelson


National Security Institute Publishes New Law and Policy Paper as part of NSI 2020:
“Techlash and National Security: The Need for U.S. Leadership on Privacy and Security”


Arlington, VA –Today, alongside congressional hearings on major online platform players and the launch of our Technology, Innovation, and American National Security program, the National Security Institute (NSI) at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School published its latest Law and Policy Paper, “Techlash and National Security: The Need for U.S. Leadership on Privacy and Security” by NSI Senior Fellows Megan Brown and Andrea Limbago..

This Law and Policy Paper has direct relevance to today’s hearing because it:

  • Summarizes how “Techlash” and criticism of Big Tech are realigning the regulatory instincts of policymakers and companies. This dynamic may embolden government action to regulate in the name of lawful government access and national security, among other goals.
  • Describes how movements to regulate technology companies may undermine privacy and security protective end-to-end encryption and erode Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
  • Suggests that policymakers should prioritize data protection as essential for national security in the digital era and urges U.S. global leadership to inspire digital democracies and counter digital authoritarianism.
  • Proposes actionable recommendations for policymakers to address encryption, federal data protection regulation, cybersecurity expertise, and global leadership.

“As policymakers consider tech policy, from privacy to cyber to encryption, they should resist a populist temptation to punish or regulate tech companies in a way that makes the US less open to innovation, creativity, and investment.  As we see in recent Congressional and Executive Branch actions, including today’s antitrust hearing and yesterday’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration petition to the Federal Communications Commission to revise Section 230, some are targeting our own tech sector while other countries promote national champions to promote their ideas around the world,”  said Ms. Brown

She continued, “we need thoughtful policies that tackle our very real security and privacy challenges in order to promote innovation and lead on the global stage.  The United States must be an active counterweight to geopolitical rivals.  And it must so do in a way that keeps the U.S. private sector engaged and empowered to take a leading role in global technology markets.”

“Data is foundational to our national and economic security, and is at risk of manipulation, theft, and exposure from a broad range of state and non-state actors.  The ongoing revelations of data-sharing scandals by tech companies has prompted growing interest in new data regulations. Given the foundational role of data to our national and economic security, this is a welcome shift, but risks weakening instead of strengthening national security and data protection,” said Dr. Limbago.  She continued, “this paper highlights the essential role the U.S. must play in shaping a data protection strategy that supports both privacy and security, and provide the leadership to demonstrate how innovation and data protection can co-exist as a foundational component of a digital democracy.”

“The release of NSI’s paper today highlighting the potential threats to our national security and economic success as a result of the techlash movement highlights the challenges arising out of the hearings taking place in the House Judiciary Committee today,” said Jamil N. Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute at GMU’s Antonin Scalia Law School.  “While there are many different views on how to handle lawful access and privacy matters, as Congress considers other potentially ill-informed regulation of the highly successful technology industry including antitrust-related efforts, it is crucial that we step carefully, if at all, so as not to limit innovation or undermine cybersecurity efforts.” said Professor Jaffer.

The paper is available here.

Megan Brown’s bio can be found here.

Andrea Limbago’s bio can be found here.


About the Technology, Innovation, and American National Security: Preserving U.S. Leadership in a New Decade
This project will explore what the U.S. should do to ensure its global economic and political leadership, including how the U.S. government and private sector might work together to respond to national security threats and economic competition while promoting innovation.

We expect papers associated with this project to drive a serious debate on technology and national security, informed by the work of NSI’s authors and experts providing key insights and actionable recommendations.

About NSI 2020
NSI 2020 is a year-long project that will focus on two of America’s most pressing national security challenges: the rise of China and preserving U.S. technology innovation leadership.   NSI 2020 will feature a series of events, papers, and policy engagements centered on these two imperative challenges over the next year.

About the National Security Institute
The National Security Institute serves as a platform for research, teaching, scholarship, and policy development that incorporates a realistic assessment of the threats facing the United States and its allies, as well as an appreciation of the legal and practical challenges facing U.S. intelligence, defense, law enforcement, homeland security, and cybersecurity communities.  NSI draws on the experience of its fellows, as well as its highly distinguished advisory board and faculty, to produce timely research and policy materials that deliver insightful analysis and actionable recommendations to senior policymakers in the White House and key departments and agencies, as well as those on Capitol Hill.

About George Mason
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states.  Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.

About the Scalia Law School
The Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University is defined by three words: Learn. Challenge. Lead. Students receive an outstanding legal education (Learn), are taught to critically evaluate prevailing orthodoxy and pursue new ideas (Challenge), and, ultimately, are well prepared to distinguish themselves in their chosen fields (Lead).  It has been one of America’s top-ranked law schools for the last fifteen years.