Research Workshop

When: Third Friday of each month at Noon Central Time (sometimes fourth Friday; next workshops: February 17; March 17; April 21; May 19)

What: First 90 minutes: Two presentations of CS+Law works in progress or new papers with open Q&A. Last 30 minutes: Networking.

Where: Zoom

Who: CS+Law faculty, postdocs, PhD students, and other students (1) enrolled in or who have completed a graduate degree in CS or Law and (2) engage in CS+Law research intended for publication.

A Steering Committee of CS+Law faculty from Berkeley, Boston U., U. Chicago, Cornell, Georgetown, MIT, North Carolina Central, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn, Technion, and UCLA organizes the CS+Law Monthly Workshop. A different university serves as the chair for each monthly program and sets the agenda.

Why: The Steering Committee’s goals include building community, facilitating the exchange of ideas, and getting students involved. To accomplish this, we ask that participants commit to attending regularly.

Computer Science + Law is a rapidly growing area. It is increasingly common that a researcher in one of these fields must interact with the other discipline. For example, there is significant research in each field regarding the law and regulation of computation, the use of computation in legal systems and governments, and the representation of law and legal reasoning. There has been a significant increase in interdisciplinary research collaborations between researchers from CS and Law. Our goal is to create a forum for the exchange of ideas in a collegial environment that promotes building community, collaboration, and research that helps to further develop CS+Law as a field.

Workshop 15: Friday, March 17, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Central (Chicago) Time

Please join us for our next CS+Law Research Workshop online on Friday, March 17 from Noon to 2:00 p.m. CT (Chicago time).

Workshop 15 organizer: Penn (Christopher Yoo)

Link to join on Zoom: Will be circulated to Google Group


20-minute presentation - Stefan Bechtold

25-minute Q&A

20-minute presentation - Steve Bellovin

25-minute Q&A

30 minutes networking and small-group discussions

Presentation 1:

Explaining Explainable AI (Daniela Sele, Elliott Ash & Stefan Bechtold)

Presenter: Stefan Bechtold


The increasing use of algorithms in legal and economic decision-making has led to calls for explainable decisions or even a “right to explanation” for decision subjects. Such explanations are desired, in particular, when the decision-making algorithms are opaque, for example with machine learning or artificial intelligence. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and related reforms have started giving these rights legal force. Nevertheless, even a specified right to explanation leaves many questions open, in particular, how decisions made by black-box algorithms can and should be explained. Faced with this question, legal and social science scholars have begun to articulate conditions that explanations should satisfy to make them legally and ethically acceptable for decision subjects. At the same time, an active literature in explainable AI has produced a growing library of methods for explaining algorithmic predictions and decisions. However, explainable AI has focused primarily on the needs of software developers to debug rather than the interests of decision subjects to understand. The legal-ethical debates, on the one hand, and explainable AI innovations, on the other, have mostly proceeded independently without a connecting conversation. This project aims to bridge this gap. Starting from the legal side, we present an organizing framework for explanations of algorithmic decision-making, distill factors contributing to good explanations of algorithmic decision-making, and introduce a taxonomy of explanation methods. We argue that this framework may provide a bridge between the literature in law and computer science on explainable AI. We also present avenues for applying this framework in empirical research.


Stefan Bechtold is Professor of Intellectual Property at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. His research interests include intellectual property, Internet, privacy, telecommunications, and antitrust law, law & technology, as well as law & economics. He was a Visiting Professor at NYU School of Law, the University of Haifa, a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, and spent research visits in Amsterdam, Berkeley, Chicago, Munich, and Singapore. Stefan Bechtold is an affiliated faculty member of the ETH AI Center, a former board member of the Communications of the ACM, a board member of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies, and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. He has published in journals such as the American Journal of Comparative Law; Journal of Empirical Legal Studies; Journal of Law, Economics & Organization; Southern California Law Review; Marketing Science; Journal of Behavioral Decision Making; Communications of the ACM; and PETs and HotNets Proceedings. Stefan Bechtold received his legal education from the University of Tubingen (Germany) and Stanford Law School.


Presentation 2:

Preventing Intimate Image Abuse via Privacy-Preserving Credentials (Steven Bellovin, Janet Zhang, Marie Nganele, and Jacob Gorman)

Presenter: Steve Bellovin


The problem of non-consensual pornography (NCP), sometimes known as intimate image abuse or revenge porn, is well known. However, despite its distribution being illegal in most states, it remains a serious problem, if only because it is often difficult to prove who uploaded the pictures.

One obvious countermeasure would be to require Internet sites to strongly authenticate their users, but this is not an easy problem. Furthermore, while that would provide accountability for the immediate upload, such a policy would cause other problems—the ability to speak anonymously is a vital constitutional right. Also, it often would not help identify the original offender—many people download images from one site and upload them to another, which adds another layer of complexity.

We instead propose a more complex scheme, based on a privacy-preserving cryptographic credential scheme originally devised by Jan Camenisch and Anna Lysyanskaya. We arrange things so that three different parties must cooperate to identify a user who uploaded an image. We perform a legal analysis of the acceptability of this scheme under the First Amendment and its implied guarantee of the right to anonymous speech, show how this must be balanced against the victim's right to sexual privacy, discuss the necessary changes to §230 (and the constitutional issues with these changes), and the legal standards for obtaining the necessary court orders—or opposing their issuance.


Steven M. Bellovin works on security, privacy, and related legal and public policy issues.  He has focused on the role of buggy code as a leading driver of insecurity, and on ways to use cryptography to protect personal data as well as ordinary network communications.  These fields interact with governmental concerns, so he has worked with members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and with the legal academy, to ensure that sound policies are adopted.

Of particular interest to Bellovin are solutions that are useful in the real world.  In the 1990s, he worked on firewalls as the only scalable solution to widespread buggy code.  He has worked on efficient encrypted search techniques, where the database operator can understand neither the contents of the database nor the queries, but can return the correct records.  In the legal realm, he has used technical analyses to inform the debate over things like location-tracking and how the third party doctrine can or cannot be applied to the Internet.

Bellovin received a BA from Columbia University in 1972, and an MS (1977) and PhD (1982) in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board.

Join us to get meeting information

Join our group to get the agenda and Zoom information for each meeting and engage in the CS+Law discussion.

Interested in presenting?

Submit a proposed topic to present. We strongly encourage the presentation of works in progress, although we will consider the presentation of more polished and published projects.

2022-23 Series Schedule

Friday, September 23, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: Northwestern)
Friday, October 28, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: Cornell)
Friday, November 18, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: UCLA)
Friday, December 16, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: Boston University)
Friday, January 20, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: MIT)
Friday, February 17, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: U. Chicago)
Friday, March 17, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: Penn)
Friday, April 21, Noon to 2:00 p.m. Central Time (Organizer: Berkeley)
Friday, May 19, Noon to 2:00 Central Time (Organizer: Georgetown)

Steering Committee

Ran Canetti (Boston U.)

Bryan Choi (Ohio State)

Aloni Cohen (U. Chicago)

April Dawson (North Carolina Central)

Dazza Greenwood (MIT)

James Grimmelmann (Cornell Tech)

Jason Hartline (Northwestern)

Dan Linna (Northwestern)

Paul Ohm (Georgetown)

Pamela Samuelson (Berkeley)

Inbal Talgam-Cohen (Technion - Israel Institute of Technology)

John Villasenor (UCLA)

Rebecca Wexler (Berkeley)

Christopher Yoo (Penn)

Background - CS+Law Monthly Workshop

Northwestern Professors Jason Hartline and Dan Linna convened an initial meeting of 21 CS+Law faculty at various universities on August 17, 2021 to propose a series of monthly CS+Law research conferences. Hartline and Linna sought volunteers to sit on a steering committee. Hartline, Linna, and their Northwestern colleagues provide the platform and administrative support for the series.