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CISI Speaker - Dr. Emma L. Briant, Researcher, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University

Monday, March 4, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Emma L. Briant, Researcher, George Washington University
Date: Monday, March 4, 2019 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: 142 Wilson Hall
Co-Sponsors: Department of Media Studies

Talk Title:  Propaganda Machine: The Hidden Story of Cambridge Analytica and the Digital Influence Industry

Abstract:  Dr. Briant will talk about her ongoing book project, Propaganda Machine, which will tell the untold story of Cambridge Analytica (CA) in the words and documents of those who built it, and the voices of those who exposed it. It is a book about the rise and continuing threat of a new breed of influence firm who brought dirty tricks and propaganda into a digital age. CA’s parent company SCL drew on military and intelligence methodologies, and growing access to social media data, to develop a surveillant and coercive influence capability for commercial expansion, while providing unique methods for Western governments' national security. Explosive growth of social media like Facebook opened the door to big data analytics, psychographics, and the techniques of surveillant advertising. This talk will analyze the global expansion of a model of surveillant, data-driven and extreme propaganda which ultimately enabled a uniquely contemporary crisis during the Brexit and Trump campaigns. Dr. Briant describes the incentivization of a business model that undermines human rights efforts, heightens inequality and makes Western governments’ security and elections vulnerable. The book draws case studies from many exclusive interviews and documents. Dr. Briant argues that media and political debates as they focused on the Facebook data scandal, systematically underestimated the scale and implications of this crisis. This book will consider data ethics within wider context of other dimensions of CA's unethical practice. Dr. Briant argues that CA was an extreme but logical product of an economic, security and communication policy environment that enables and incentivizes unethical behaviour from a rapidly developing and unaccountable industry.

Biography: A researcher at George Washington University, Dr. Briant specializes in researching political communication and propaganda both in international security and political campaigns, she gained unparalleled access to Senior Executives at SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica and her work has since aided multiple important investigations. Her widely reported evidence to the UK Fake News Inquiry and Senate Judiciary Committee was discussed by UK Parliament, Canadian Parliament, European Parliament and US Congress.

CISI Distinguished Speaker – Bill Maurer, Director, Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion

Monday, October 22, 2018 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Location: The Rotunda, Dome Room

Bill Maurer, Director, UC Irvine, Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion
Monday, October 22, 2018, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Dome Room at the UVA Rotunda
Co-sponsors: Department of Anthropology
Seating is limited - Register by clicking here

Bill Maurer

Talk Title:  That Touch of Money: The Cashless Past, Some Cashless Futures, and the Public Good

Abstract:  Jumping off from political and humanitarian calls for the abolition of physical banknotes, this talk situates the most recent arguments for a cashless future in the context of the history of money, accounting, and payment technologies. It considers how new technological systems have reopened a political discussion over the nature and function of money and its materiality, while at the same time reflecting back on the affordances of technologies of accounting that would obviate the need for physical currency. The devil is in the material details, however: drawing on the archaeological record and considering the more recent history of technology, from the Automated Clearing House to cryptocurrencies, the talk will question the political ramifications of a cashless future that does not account for the relations of inequality underlying any money form.

Biography:  Bill Maurer, Ph.D., is dean of the School of Social Sciences and professor of anthropology; criminology, law and society; and law at the University of California, Irvine. An anthropologist, he is one of the world’s leading experts on money’s artifacts and technological systems, from cowrie shells to credit cards. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including most recently, How Would You Like to Pay? How Technology is Changing the Future of Money, and recently edited (with Lana Swartz) Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff. As director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Maurer coordinates research in over 40 countries on how new payment technologies impact poor people’s well-being. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Vassar College and his master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Stanford University.

CISI Distinguished Speaker – Tarleton Gillespie, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Location: The Rotunda, Dome Room
Seating is limited - Register by clicking here

Tarleton Gillespie head shot


Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media

Abstract: While most social media users want their chosen platforms free from harassment and porn, they also want to see the content they choose to see. This means platforms face an irreconcilable contradiction: while platforms promise an open space for participation and community, every one of them imposes rules of some kind. In the early days of social media, content moderation was hidden away, even disavowed. But the illusion of the open platform has, in recent years, begun to crumble.  Today, content moderation has never been more important, or more controversial. In his new book, Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, content moderation, and the hidden decisions that shape social media, Tarleton Gillespie explains how social media platforms police what we post online – and the societal impact of these decisions. Content moderation has never been ancillary or after-the-fact – it is crucial and definitional to what platforms do. Platforms can no longer duck the responsibility of being better custodians to the massive and contested public realm they have helped bring into being. But what are those companies’ responsibilities to the public?

Biography: Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, an affiliated associate professor in the Department of Communication and Department of Information Science at Cornell University, co-founder of the blog Culture Digitally, author of Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT, 2007) , co-editor of Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT, 2014), and author of Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions that Shape Social Media (Yale, 2018).

1st Annual Virginia Cybersecurity Education Conference

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 - 10:00am to Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 5:00pm

The Virginia Cyber Range is hosting the 1st Annual Virginia Cybersecurity Education Conference at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA on August 14-15, 2018. This conference is open to all Virginia high school, college, and university faculty, administrators, and partners. Additional information can be found on the event website

Attendees and Sponsors: Registration is open! Create an account and register >> here.
Registration fees (includes CEU certificate, lunch (Day 1), and breakfast & lunch (Day 2)):
     - VA Educator/State/Federal Government Employee: $50
     - Student: $25
     - Industry/Others: $150
     - Sponsors: Three levels available during registration; see below under Sponsorship Opportunities to review.

Conference Objectives
At the end of the conference, attendees will:

  • Understand the challenges facing educators (K12 through university level) in cybersecurity education
  • Learn innovative and effective ways to teach cybersecurity to students using hands-on learning
  • Learn about various state and national cybersecurity educational resources available to educators
  • Understand the history and services provided by the Virginia Cyber Range
  • Understand the hiring needs and skills required to prepare students to successfully enter the cybersecurity workforce
  • Discover ways to get underrepresented student populations excited about and involved in cybersecurity
  • Examine the dangers associated with social media and technology use and how to effectively teach students to safely operate in cyber

Earning Continuing Education Units (CEU)
All attendees are eligible to earn CEUs for attending the conference, but they must sign in each day at the designated CEU table located near registration.



Sunday, June 10, 2018 - 8:00am to Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 5:00pm

The Commonwealth Conference on National Defense and Intelligence (CCNDI) provides a platform to address issues critical to the security of the United States. The conference brings leaders in government, academia, and industry together to engage on critical challenges, in both unclassified and classified settings, and to work to develop a coherent, coordinated approach to these challenges, among the three sectors. The CCNDI theme for 2018 is "Resilience for National Security."


More information on the conference, including agendas and registration, is available at