News Releases

Leading Figures in Cybersecurity and Privacy Advocate for an End to the War Between Privacy and Security
The 'Digital Equilibrium Project' works to bring differing views together in pursuit of a digital constitution to support a safer world for individuals, organizations and nations

BOSTON, Feb. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

Key Takeaways:

  • Cybersecurity, government and privacy experts are banding together as part of The 'Digital Equilibrium Project' to foster a new, productive dialogue on balancing security and privacy in the connected world. The project aims to address the underlying issues fueling acrimonious debates like the contentious court order between Apple and the U.S. Government.
  • The diverse group includes current and former leaders of some of the world's largest cybersecurity firms and organizations, former officials in the NSA and national law enforcement, and leaders of some of the nation's most influential privacy organizations. These individuals believe new thinking and collaboration is needed to avert potential catastrophes as the digital and physical worlds become more interdependent.
  • The group will release its foundational paper 'Balancing Security and Privacy in the Connected World' on Tuesday, March 1st at the RSA Conference – the world's largest cybersecurity conference.
  • This project and related paper, months in the making, seek to end the kinds of standoffs we are seeing between Apple and the U.S. Government, addressing the underlying lack of social norms and legal constructs for the digital world.
  • They will convene a mid-year summit to craft a framework or 'constitution' for the digital world. The intent of this constitution is to help guide policy creation, broker compromise and serve as the foundation for decision making around cybersecurity issues. Senior executives from the Justice Department, Apple and other technology firms will be invited to participate.

Some of the nation's most prominent thinkers and experts on cybersecurity and privacy are advocating for a new revolution in the Internet. But this time it's not a technology revolution, but a social one.

The Digital Equilibrium Project is comprised of former senior government officials, cybersecurity business and industry leaders, and privacy professionals who share a concern that today's polarized approaches to privacy and security are resulting in the erosion of both—in ways that jeopardize not only the progress of the digital world but the safety of the physical one as well. (Full list of organizing members below.)

Next week the group will publish its foundational paper, crafted over extensive meetings, interviews and working sessions. The paper is meant to foster a new, collaborative discussion on the most pressing questions that could determine the future safety and social value of the Internet and the digital technologies that depend on it. In addition to releasing the paper at the RSA Conference, members of the group will discuss the paper and related issues during a main-stage panel session moderated by Art Coviello, former Executive Chairman of RSA Security, and James Kaplan, a McKinsey partner, on Thursday, March 3rd. Panel members will include: Michael Chertoff, Executive Chairman of The Chertoff Group and former Secretary of Homeland Security; Trevor Hughes, President and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals; Mike McConnell, former Director of the NSA and Director, National Intelligence; and Nuala O'Connor, President and CEO, Center for Democracy & Technology.

The paper urges governments, corporations and privacy advocates to put aside the polarizing arguments that have cast security and privacy as opposing forces, and calls for a mid-year summit meeting between these parties to formulate a new structure for advancement of these pressing issues. It poses four fundamental questions that must be addressed to ensure the digital world can evolve in ways that ensure individual privacy while enabling the productivity and commercial gains that can improve quality of life around the globe. The four questions are:

  • What practices should organizations adopt to achieve their goals while protecting the privacy of their customers and other stakeholders?
  • How can organizations continue to improve the protection of their digital infrastructures and adopt privacy management practices that protect their employees?
  • What privacy management practices should governments adopt to maintain civil liberties and expectations of privacy, while ensuring the safety and security of their citizens, organizations, and critical infrastructure?
  • What norms should countries adopt to protect their sovereignty while enabling global commerce and collaboration against criminal and terrorist threats?


"The standoff between Apple and the U.S Government is a symptom of a larger issue. The speed of change in technology has far outrun the ability of our current laws, policies and social constructs to keep up," said Art Coviello, former Executive Chairman of RSA and organizer of the Digital Equilibrium Project. "We are on a pace to connect another billion people, and a hundred billion devices, to the Internet over the next five-to-ten years, with no national or global constructs for how privacy, crime, nation-state aggression and corporate responsibility will be addressed."

"I've had a front-row seat in the perceived debate between privacy and security as the author of landmark cybersecurity legislation," said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. "I have been disheartened to see government, industry and privacy advocates drawing hard and fast lines in the sand. This can't continue if we are to make meaningful changes in the way we protect our networks and the rights of private citizens. In this document, an impressive array of stakeholders starts the critical conversation of how we can strike the right balance between these two fundamental rights. Their timing couldn't be better ... It is my hope that real progress starts here."

"For the Internet to remain a platform for freedom of expression and unfettered collaboration, it must be trusted by all who use it," said Nuala O'Connor, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology. "We're seeing the trust in both our privacy and our security erode every day. This project can serve as the foundation for the difficult but constructive dialogue necessary to restore that trust, and ensure that free speech, individual dignity and the privacy of our information and conversations is protected."

"The confluence of citizens, governments and cybercriminals, all using the same connected digital technologies, creates unique challenges for governments focused on defending their citizens while enforcing the rule of law and citizen's rights," said Mike McConnell, former United States Director of National Intelligence. "Solving these challenges requires new thinking and a new dialogue between all interested parties. And solving it is crucial to not only the digital security of the nation and its citizens, but increasingly to our physical security as well."

"For centuries the concepts of privacy and security largely went hand-in-hand," said Trevor Hughes, President and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals and a contributing member to the project. "Today we see a false tension between these ideas in the digital world. Important conversations on encryption, privacy and good corporate governance are not binary. We do not have to select one or the other. Privacy and security professionals must build solutions in tandem, indeed, in harmony so that we can capture the massive gains in healthcare, social service, productivity and education that are possible through the digitization of these fields."

"Today we're wrestling with the conflicts between privacy and security as a series of disparate events," said Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security. "A framework of guiding principles, norms of behavior and eventually laws and policies in this area will not only protect individual privacy, it will enable law enforcement and other government agencies to act with more speed, clarity and context in the pursuit of their missions."

The group intends to offer the paper to President Obama and current members of the House and Senate who are forming task forces to address these very issues, and to push for a mid-year summit to create actionable proposals based on the four key questions outlined in the paper.

The Digital Equilibrium Project's foundational paper will available for download on March 1st at


Stewart Baker

Edward Davis

Former 1st Assistant Secretary of DHS and
General Counsel of the NSA Partner, Steptoe
and Johnson

Former Boston Police Commissioner
President and CEO, Edward Davis, LLC

Tim Belcher

Brian Fitzgerald

Former CTO, RSA

Chief Marketing Officer, Veracode

Jim Bidzos

Kasha Gauthier

Chairman and CEO, Verisign

Program Committee Co-Chair, NICE
Special Advisor, Boston College
Cybersecurity Masters Program

Art Coviello

J. Trevor Hughes

Former Executive Chairman, RSA

President and CEO, International
Association of Privacy Professionals

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ph.D.

Michael McConnell

Executive Director of the Privacy and Big
Data Institute at Ryerson University

Former Director of the NSA and
Director of National Intelligence

Larry Clinton

Nuala O'Connor

President and CEO,
Internet Security Alliance

President and CEO,
Center for Democracy & Technology

Michael Chertoff

JR Williamson

Executive Chairman of The Chertoff Group
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

Corporate Chief Information Officer,
Northrop Grumman

Richard Clarke

Knowledge Partner: McKinsey & Company

Former White House Advisor
Chairman and CEO, Good Harbor Security Risk Management

SOURCE The Digital Equilibrium Project

For further information: Rachel Nelson at 781.966.4127 Or