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Online voting proposal wins BrownThink

Undergraduate public policy competition focuses on cybersecurity, provides hands-on perspective

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 13, 2017

Students and judges at the second annual BrownThink public policy competition analyzed and critiqued proposals addressing cybersecurity issues Saturday and Sunday.

The event, hosted in the Joukowsky Forum of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, included panels with prominent leaders in the field of cybersecurity, a model United Nations simulation, cyber games, proposal preparation and presentation of final proposals.

Eren Ileri ’18, Christopher Bey ’17 , Vladimir Borodin ’19 and Laura Henny ’19 took home a cash prize and the chance to collaborate with the Center for Strategic and Contemporary Research for their winning proposal, “Addressing Infrastructures for Online Voting Systems in NATO.”

The team’s policy proposal included a North Atlantic Council Committee on electoral cybersecurity, a convention on the infrastructure of end-to-end virtual internet voting and election network monitoring with emergency response, Ileri said.

The team scored 900 out of a possible 1000 points, according to the competition judges. Twelve teams of undergraduates participated and the margin of victory was small, judges said.

The competition gave “a hands-on perspective in an environment you can’t get in a classroom setting … that simulates the real world,” Henny said.

All four of the winning team members praised the resources, workshops and speakers made available to the competitors.

Ambassador Richard Boucher and John Nicholson, first secretary for cybersecurity at the British embassy, spoke Saturday on the future of security, addressing aging national cybersecurity defense and the particular dangers of online espionage. They also spent time answering student questions about the future of cybersecurity, the role of the courts in determining governmental powers and free access to the internet.

Highlighting the importance of the competition, Boucher said, “Politicians don’t know much (about cybersecurity) and don’t know” what stance to take.

The competition addressed the intersection between technology and policy, said Aaron Zhang ’20, who appreciated the chance to blend the two in developing his policy proposal.

The event “is geared towards public policy concentrators, which makes it less intimidating,” said competitor Max Mines ’20.

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Laura Henny’s ’19 name. Her last name is “Henny,” not “Henney.” The Herald regrets the error.