CodeX Speaker Series | Using Cryptographic Techniques to Ensure Fair Randomness in Legal Processes

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A recent Cornell Law Review article casts doubt on the notion that the assignment of judges to the three-judge panels in the federal courts of appeal is truly random. Using quantitative techniques, the article’s authors come to the surprising conclusion that “several of the circuit courts have panels that are non-random in ways that impact the ideological balance of panels.” Though a review of the study reveals a number of methodological flaws, we find the issue of randomness in the legal system worthy of further study. In this talk, we demonstrate that cryptographic protocols can yield effective methods for producing unbiased panel assignments, truly random tax audits, and verifiably random visa lottery results. We present the theory behind these protocols and sketch how the courts and other public institutions could apply them in practice. This talk is based on a joint work with Keith Winstein.

Speaker:

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs
PhD Student in Computer Science, Stanford University

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs is a fourth-year PhD student in computer science at Stanford, advised by Dan Boneh. Henry’s research focuses on applied cryptography and computer security and, in particular, his work uses cryptographic techniques to bring rigorous privacy properties to large-scale computer systems.

Henry’s recent research projects include a system for anonymous messaging at million-user scale, a cryptographic hashing algorithm for secure password storage, and a scheme for protecting cryptographic secrets on devices with poor sources of randomness. For these research efforts, Henry and his co-authors have received the 2015 IEEE Security and Privacy Distinguished Paper Award and the 2016 Caspar Bowden Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies.

Henry has had a longstanding interest in the interaction of technology and society. Before coming to Stanford, Henry spent a year deploying health information systems for an NGO in rural Uganda. He also has conducted fieldwork on computer security challenges in Internet cafes in Ghana, worked on network infrastructure for a rural Internet service provider in Nepal, and studied the culture around online courses in India.

Henry received a B.S. in computer science (with distinction) from Yale University in 2010, and he graduated from Berkeley High School in 2006. An NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and an NDSEG Fellowship have generously funded Henry’s research at Stanford.

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