CS8803: Security, Privacy, & Democracy

Georgia Tech, Spring 2024


A goal of this course is to provide an opportunity to contribute to a research project at the intersection of security, privacy, and the public interest.

Below are a few example ideas for projects related to the topics covered in class:

  • Security analyses of societally-relevant systems; Voting systems, proctoring software, decentralized social networks, etc.
  • New crypto protocol(s) to help out at-risk users.
  • Measure the real-world use of anonymity networks.
  • Working with an elections official to solve a real-world development problem they’re having

Examples of Past Projects:

  • Measuring Attrition of Trust & Safety Professionals.
  • Detecting & Measuring Discrimination in Ads Ecosystems.
  • Cryptographic systems for GDPR compliant databases.
  • New cryptographic architecture for voter registration systems.


All parts of the project, excluding the group selection, submitted in PDF format using the class latex template.

Important Project Due Dates and Timeline

I really encourage students to start thinking about project ideas early, ideally in the first week. I am more than happy to chat about half-baked ideas, please reach out via Canvas or email to schedule a time.

There are a series of required intermediate assignments for the project. See the Schedule and/or Canvas for the exact timeline.

The goal of breaking up these sections is to provide early and frequent feedback for the students on their progress in the course.

1. Group Selection

Groups must provide a paragraph summarizing their topic, and provide a list of collaborators for the group.

Grade: Pass / Fail

Groups must submit a document, no more than a page and a half, describing a series of relevant works to their topic, and providing some relevant background to the reader.

The goal of this section is to inform a reader in the final paper of where your research fits in to the overall literature. See the related works in any number of the papers assigned in our class, e.g. this one.

Grade: 50% writing, and 50% completeness of the background search.

3. Topic & Motivation v2

Groups must submit a document, no more than a page and a half, providing a description of their project idea, why it’s important, and what they plan on doing.

This must also include a section describing potential “off-ramps” for the project; what the group intends to do if the original idea turns out to be a longer process than expected, or does not work.

The goal of this motivate a reader that the project is important and interesting.

It is absolutely acceptable for this version of the topic / motivation to be different than what was originally selected in part #1.

Grade: 50% writing/style, 50% content and argument

4. Plan & Methodology

Groups must submit a document, no more than a page and a half, providing a detailed description of how they plan on doing their project.

The goal of this motivate a reader that the project is actually possible to do, and effectively explain how you’re planning on doing it.

Grade: 50% writing/style, 50% content

5. Paper Draft #1

Groups must submit a document representing a draft of their final project. It is acceptable for this document to be incomplete, but must at least cover related works, background, and methodology. For sections that are incomplete, the document must explain the plan to complete these tasks for the final paper.

Grade: 40% writing/style, 30% content, and 30% completion

6. Final Presentation

Groups must present their work during the final few days of class.

Grade: 50% presentation effectiveness, 30% content, 20% completion, and 10% feedback to another group (stay tuned).

7. Final Paper

Groups must submit a final paper for project, including related works, background, methodology, results, and a conclusion.

Grade: 40% writing/style, 30% content, and 30% completion

Tips for Writing and Presenting

A useful Latex tutorial can be found here.

There are a number of writing resources available. Personally, I found Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style” to be full of fantastic information, and required only an afternoon of reading. Seriously, it’ll change your life.

For presenting, I encourage all who will listen to watch Patrick Winston’s legendary How To Speak lecture. A text adaptation is available as well, which goes further into depth on many of the topics discussed.