Andrea Little Limbago

Chief Social Scientist, Virtru

Getting into the Privacy Game: How An American Alternative Can Counter the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism

Governments across the globe are implementing data storage and access restrictions to control information and data flows within their borders. Coupled with censorship and surveillance, this new model of digital authoritarianism is gaining traction globally. While the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation provides one democratic alternative to this model, the United States’ approach to data protection and privacy remains decentralized, industry-specific, and complex. Despite expanded discussions on data privacy in Congress, a unified, federal data protection and privacy framework remains stalled due to misperceptions around trade-offs pertaining to data protection. Various groups contend there must be compromises between security and convenience, privacy and innovation, and data protection and national security. By dispelling these false dichotomies, meaningful progress can be made toward a coherent federal data protection framework. Such a framework would have far-reaching implications beyond U.S. borders and provide a democratic counter-punch to digital authoritarianism. Absent such U.S. leadership in this area, external forces – many of which hinder cross border data flows and privacy – will continue to redefine the U.S. business landscape in ways that may run counter to American interests and a robust digital economy.

Dr. Andrea Little Limbago is a computational social scientist specializing in the intersection of technology, national security, and society. She is currently the Chief Social Scientist at Virtru, where she researches and writes on the geopolitics of cybersecurity, global data protection trends, and usable security. Her writing has been featured in numerous outlets, including Politico, the Hill, Business Insider, War on the Rocks, and Forbes. Andrea frequently presents on a range of cybersecurity topics such as norms, attacker trends, computational propaganda, data protection, and workforce development. Andrea is also a Senior Fellow and Program Director for the Emerging Technologies Law and Policy Program at the National Security Institute at George Mason, and contributes to numerous security conference program review committees. She previously was the Chief Social Scientist at Endgame. Prior to that, Andrea taught in academia and was a technical lead at the Department of Defense, where she earned a top award for technical excellence. Andrea earned a PhD in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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