Information Technology

This chapter explores the potential for gamesmanship in technology-assisted discovery. Attorneys have long embraced gamesmanship strategies in analog discovery, producing reams of irrelevant documents, delaying depositions, or interpreting requests in a hyper-technical manner. The new question, however, is whether machine learning technologies can transform gaming strategies. By now it is well known that technologies have reinvented the practice of civil litigation and, specifically, the extensive search for relevant documents in complex cases. Many sophisticated litigants use machine learning algorithms – under the umbrella of “Technology Assisted Review” (TAR) – to simplify the identification and production of relevant documents in discovery. Litigants employ TAR in cases ranging from antitrust to environmental law, civil rights, and employment disputes. But as the field becomes increasingly influenced by engineers and technologists, a string of commentators has raised questions about TAR, including lawyers’ professional role, underlying incentive structures, and the dangers of new forms of gamesmanship and abuse.

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In Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice, editor David Freeman Engstrom (Stanford Law School) and his 28 co-contributors, including Diego Zambrano, dissect the legal and policy implications of the technologies that are poised to remake the civil justice system.

Neel Guha
Peter Henderson
Diego A. Zambrano
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Cambridge University Press

The Chinese government is revolutionizing digital surveillance at home. Are digital technology transfers from Huawei, China’s leading information technology company, enabling recipient governments to expand their digital surveillance operations and engage in more targeted repression against dissidents? To answer this question, we focus on the African continent, which has received nearly half of all global Huawei technology transfers. Using a series of identification strategies, we show that the effect of Huawei transfers on digital surveillance and targeted repression depends on preexisting political institutions in recipient countries. In Africa’s autocracies, which account for 81% of transfers to the continent, Huawei technology transfers facilitate digital surveillance, internet shutdowns, and targeted repression. In Africa’s democracies, Huawei technology may induce a small reduction in human rights abuses, though the effects are less consistently estimated. Most broadly, this paper suggests that China’s digital technology exports are reinforcing repressive governments.

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The Chinese government is revolutionizing digital surveillance at home. Are digital technology transfers from Huawei, China’s leading information technology company, enabling recipient governments to expand their digital surveillance operations and engage in more targeted repression against dissidents?

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Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary
Brett Carter
Erin Baggott Carter
Working Paper #122
Nora Sulots
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The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law’s (CDDRL) Leadership Network for Change (LNC) is an expansive group that encompasses over 2,000 up-and-coming leaders and change-makers from all corners of the globe. This diverse and widespread network is comprised of alumni of three practitioner programs based at CDDRL: the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program, Leadership Academy for Development, and the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program.

Last summer LNC, in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), launched an RFP for an innovative grant program — the Local Democracy in Action Grants Initiative. These collaboration grants were designed to bring together LNC leaders and CIPE partners to work across industry, sectors, and borders to introduce local democratic approaches, analysis, research, or dialogue to improve the way in which local communities solve today’s greatest democratic challenges. 

We were pleased to award grants to six teams of alumni whose projects aimed to support democratic reform efforts, civic discourse, and the incorporation of new technology to make a wider impact on the local political and economic environment:

  • Ethiopia: Insuring Public Accountability Through Tailored E-Government
  • Georgia: Democracy Podcast Series
  • Kazakhstan: Data Protection Regulation Upgrades
  • Lebanon: Enhancing Decision Making & Transparency in the Public Procurement Process
  • Nepal: Strengthening Technology-Driven Democracy Through Robust & Digitally Secured Civic Space
  • Ukraine: Enhancing the Quality of Decisions & Creating Local Coalitions Around Key Reforms

On August 17, 2022, CIPE convened the grantees to present the culmination and impact of their work. Below you can view a recording of the event and read about each of the six projects.



Ensuring Public Accountability Through Tailored E-Government (Ethiopia)
Wondwossen Mitiku (LAD), Begashaw Tizazu (LAD), Getachew Teklemariam

LNC and CIPE alumni Wondwossen Mitiku, Begashaw Tizazu, and Getachew Teklemariam worked to strengthen the use of digital technology for public participation and accountability in Ethiopia. Through research and dialogue with e-government representatives in Estonia, South Korea, and Tunisia, the team developed local advocacy strategies that promoted greater public participation and accountability of e-government services in Ethiopia. The team developed a policy paper capturing their recommendations and organize a workshop promoting their findings.

Democracy Podcast Series (Georgia)

Nino Evgenidze (DHSF), Natia Zambakhidze (LAD)

In Georgia, the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) and Radio Liberty collaborated to organize a series of podcasts and lectures to strengthen public understanding of important issues facing Georgian society. EPRC and Radio Liberty hosted leading experts to foster discussion on a diverse set of issues facing Georgia and the wider region. Topics included democratic and economic development, economic security, democracy and technology, and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Data Protection Regulation Upgrades (Kazakhstan)

Ruslan Dairbekov (DHSF), Nino Evgenidze (DHSF)

LNC alumni Nino Evangenidze and Ruslan Daiyrbekov led a virtual study tour of Georgia’s development and implementation of the nation’s data protection regulatory regime. Evangenidze and Daiyrbekov led a group of policymakers and think tank leaders to identify data protection best practices and lessons learned from Georgia’s experience. Following the study tour, formal recommendations were developed to inform a draft data protection law in Kazakhstan.

Enhancing Decision Making and Transparency in the Public Procurement Process (Lebanon)

Rabih el Chaer (DHSF), Mohamad Najem (DHSF)

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS) collaborated with LNC alumni Mohamad Najem and Rabih El Chaer to produce policy recommendations on enhancing the e-procurement system in Lebanon. To inform their work, the team met with Ukraine’s e-procurement system administrators to learn about the country’s system and identify lessons in its development and implementation. Based on their findings, they produced a policy paper outlining their recommendations and shared it widely with policymakers, journalists, and civil society representatives in Lebanon.

Strengthening Technology-Driven Democracy Through Robust and Digitally Secured Civic Space (Nepal)

Narayan Adhikari (CIPE), Bikin Ghimire (CIPE)

The Accountability Lab Nepal (ALN) and Digital Rights Nepal (DRN) collaborated to develop a toolkit for civil society organizations to equip them with the ability to manage digital security threats and vulnerabilities while defending democracy. ALN and DRN conducted desk research, disseminated a survey, and organized workshops with key stakeholders to identify best practices and develop tips and advice to navigate the internet safely. Through their efforts, ALN and DRN helped to build a more robust and digital secure civic space in Nepal.

Enhancing the Quality of Decisions and Creating Local Coalitions Around Key Reforms (Ukraine)

Iryna Nemyrovych (LAD), Matvii Khrenov (LAD), Pavlo Kovtonyuk

The Ukrainian Healthcare Center (UHC) and LNC alumni Iryna Nemyrovych, Matvii Khrenoc, and Pavlo Kovtonyuk worked to create local coalitions in several Ukrainian municipalities to foster dialogue and promote strategies to improve the country’s healthcare systems.  Through this advocacy work, the team enhanced local democratic engagement and strengthened the transparency and quality of medical services.
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CDDRL's Leadership Network for Change and the Center for International Private Enterprise awarded collaboration grants to six teams of alumni to foster cooperation and strengthen democratic development on a regional and global scale.

CDDRL/HAI Predoctoral Scholar, 2022-2023

Eddie Yang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at UC San Diego. His research focuses on repression and the politics of Artificial Intelligence. His dissertation studies how existing repressive institutions limit the usefulness of AI for authoritarian control, with a focus on China. His work has been published in both computer science and political science. 


With starting the war in Ukraine Vladimir Putin started the war on information within Russia: in a couple of weeks Russian authorities shut down all the independent media, dozens of independent journalists were forced to leave the country. Russian propaganda is working really hard to convince Russians to support the war in Ukraine. Is there a chance to win in Russian propaganda war. Tikhon Dzyadko, editor in chief of TVRain, the last independent TV-station in Russia, believes that it is possible and will explain what is needed to be done in order to succeed.


Tikhon Dzyadko is a Russian journalist, television presenter and media manager. He is the former editor-in-chief for TV Rain, one of the last independent television stations in Russia, and host of the Russian Television International (RTVI TV) network, a Russian-language television station based in New York.



At this time, in-person attendance is limited to Stanford affiliates only. We continue to welcome our greater community to join virtually via Zoom.


This event is co-sponsored by CDDRL and the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

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Tikhon Dzyadko

The Stanford Working Group on Platform Scale’s central proposal was to outsource the moderation of political content from the big platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and Google—to a layer of competitive middleware companies as a means of reducing these platforms’ power over political speech. In this exchange on platform power, Robert Faris and Joan Donovan, Nathalie Maréchal, and Dipayan Ghosh and Ramesh Srinivasan all argue in different ways that middleware would not stem the flow of toxic content, and in certain ways might actually intensify it. What three of our critics do not take into account is the illegitimacy of using either public or private power to suppress this hazard. Our working group’s promotion of middleware rests on a normative view about the continuing importance of freedom of speech. Middleware is the most politically realistic way forward.

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This essay is a part of an exchange based on Francis Fukuyama’s “Making the Internet Safe for Democracy” from the April 2021 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

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Journal of Democracy
Francis Fukuyama
Number 3

 Register for System Error, Live!

This event will be held outside on Stanford's campus. In accordance with Santa Clara County Public Health, masks are encouraged to be worn by all at crowded outdoor events.

Join Profs. Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy Weinstein — the authors of System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot — for a discussion hosted by Professor Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The operating system of Big Tech is broken, and this panel discussion will explore the path to a reboot. Plus, it will also allow you experience Professor Sahami’s famous tradition of throwing candy into the audience!

A forward-thinking manifesto from three Stanford professors — experts who have worked at ground zero of the tech revolution for decades — System Error reveals how Big Tech’s obsession with optimization and efficiency has sacrificed fundamental human values and demands that we change course to renew our democracy and save ourselves.

Armed with an understanding of how technologists think and exercise their power, these three Stanford professors—a philosopher working at the intersection of tech and ethics, the director of the undergraduate computer science program who was also an early Google engineer, and a political scientist who served under Barack Obama—reveal how we can hold that power to account. Troubled by the values that permeate the university and Silicon Valley, these professors worked together to chart a new path forward, creating a popular course to transform how tomorrow’s technologists might better approach their profession. Now, as the dominance of Big Tech becomes an explosive societal conundrum, join us as they share their provocative insights and concrete solutions to help everyone understand what is happening, what is at stake, and what we can do to control technology instead of letting it control us.

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and the authors will be signing copies as well.

This event is hosted by Professor Michael McFaul, director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and it is co-sponsored by the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, the Stanford School of Engineering, and the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences.

Rob Reich | FSI Affiliate
Mehran Sahami | Associate Chair for Education, Computer Science Department Associate Chair for Education, Computer Science Department
Jeremy Weinstein | FSI Senior Fellow at CDDRL

What has happened to digital activism in the 10 years since the Arab Spring? Writer, activist, and 2016 Draper Hills Summer Fellow Abdelrahman Mansour divides the answer to this question into four sections. First, he provides a short history of digital activism before and during the Arab Spring in 2011. Second, he outlines three major changes to the political environment that have affected online activism since 2013. Third, he provides seven observations about how digital activism has changed between 2013 and 2021. Finally, he provides some hopeful predictions about the way forward.

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Abdelrahman Mansour

We invite the CDDRL community to join the Leadership Network for Change for our first online event of the year, next Wednesday at 12 PM Pacific time.  Leadership Network for Change alumni Amira Yahyaoui, Nancy Okail, Abdelrahman Mansour, and Mohamad Najem will serve as panelists, while Freeman Spogli Institute and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Larry Diamond will moderate and oversee a Q+A session at the end of the panel.  Join our panelists as they elaborate on regional developments through the lens of different fields, including human rights, tech in democracy, and changes to policy and activism throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Leadership Network for Change is a network of mid-career, global public policy reformers who have all completed one of CDDRL's practitioner programs (Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program, The Leadership Academy for Development, and the Ukrainian Emergin Leaders Program). To find out more about these programs and our network, you can visit the individual program pages on CDDRL's main website. 

Online, via ZOOM: REGISTER

Abdelrahman Mansour Founder of "We Are All Khaled Said" FB Page
Mohamad Najem Advocacy and Policy Director, Social Media Exchange
Nancy Okail Former Executive Director of TIMEP
Amira Yahyaoui Founder of

Digital Activism and Authoritarian Adaptation in the Middle East Agenda (1 of 2)

Digital Activism and Authoritarian Adaptation in the Middle East Agenda (2 of 2)

Panel 1: Digital Activism

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 9-10:30 am PT

Opening Remarks: Marc Lynch, Eileen Donahoe, and Larry Diamond

Moderator: Hesham Sallam

  • Wafa Ben-Hassine: “The Hyper-Aware and Not-So-Aware: What's Next for the MENA Region's Activists and Society at Large Vis-a-Vis the Internet?”
  • Adel Iskander: “Re(Membering) Culture and Heritage: Egypt's Latest Political Turf War”
  • Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld: “Civilian Behavior on Social Media During Civil War”
  • Joshua Tucker: “Beyond Liberation Technology? The Recent Uses of Social Media by Pro-Democracy Activists”


Panel 2: Authoritarian Abuses of Internet Technologies

Thursday, May 27, 2021 | 9-10:30 am PT

Moderator: Marc Lynch

  • Marwa Fatafta: “Transnational or Cross-Border Digital Repression in the MENA Region”
  • Andrew Leber: “Social Media Manipulation in the MENA: Inauthenticity, Inequality, and Insecurity” (Co-authored paper with Alexei Abrahams)
  • Marc Owen Jones: “Tracking Adversaries: The Evolution of Manipulation Tactics on Gulf Twitter”
  • Xiao Qiang: “Chinese Digital Authoritarianism and Its Global Impact”


Panel 3: Government Reshaping of Norms and Practices to Constrain Online Activity

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 | 9-10:30 am PT

Moderator: Eileen Donahoe

  • Ahmed Shaheed: “Binary Threat: How State Cyber Policy and Practice Undermines Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa Region”
  • Mona Elswah, Mahsa Alimardani: "The Hurdles Involved in Content Moderation in the MENA Region"
  • Mohamed Najem: “The Role of the Gulf in Governing Digital Space in the Arab Region”
  • James Shires: “The Techno-Regulation of Critical Communications Infrastructures and Their Political Potential in the Gulf”
  • Alexei Abrahams: “The Web (In)Security of Middle Eastern Civil Society and Media”


Panel 4: Cross-Border Information Operations

Thursday, June 3, 2021 | 9-10:30 am PT

Moderator: Larry Diamond

  • Alexandra Siegel: “Official Foreign Influence Operations: Transnational State Media in the Arab Online Sphere”
  • Hamit Akin Unver: “Russian Disinformation Operations in Turkey: 2015-2020”
  • Shelby Grossman and Renee DiResta: “In-House vs. Outsourced Trolls: How Digital Mercenaries Shape State Influence Strategies”
  • Nathaniel Gleicher: “Covert Manipulation, Overt Influence, Direct Exploit: Understanding and Countering Influence Operations in the Middle East and Beyond”
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