All posts by bcnewell

CFP: Information Ethics Roundtable (IER) 2018 – Copenhagen, May 17-18, 2018

I am serving on the Organizing Committee for the 2018 Information Ethics Roundtable. Our CFP is below:

Information Ethics Roundtable 2018

Surveillance, Algorithms, and Digital Culture

University of Copenhagen, Denmark, May 17-18, 2018

Proposals Due: February 5, 2018
Notification of Acceptance: March 5, 2018
Full papers due: April 23, 2018

The 16th annual Information Ethics Roundtable (IER) will explore the interconnections and interdependencies between Surveillance, Algorithms, and Digital Culture that exist in the contemporary information society. Our daily lives and activities take place in digital media; information provision is highly personalized; decision-making is guided (automated) by the use of algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence; personal information is traded on the information market by platforms and data brokers; and surveillance, in many forms, is increasingly pervading both the public-facing and more intimate aspects of our daily lives. In the 2018 edition of IER, we seek proposals that approach these interconnections and interdependencies through the lens of information ethics (writ large, to include those working in multiple fields and with differing methods).

The Information Ethics Roundtable (held annually since 2003) is a yearly conference that brings together researchers from disciplines such as philosophy, information science, communications, public administration, anthropology, and law to discuss ethical issues such as information privacy, intellectual property, intellectual freedom, and censorship.

Proposals for IER 2018 should be situated within the general field of information ethics (although participants are expected to come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds) and, ideally, should connect two or more of the following areas of inquiry:
– Surveillance, privacy, and/or data protection
 – Algorithms, machine learning, and/or artificial intelligence (AI)
– Digital culture, digital media, social media, and/or other forms of digital media (non-)use

*Proposal requirements*
We invite two types of proposals:
(1) Papers: please submit a 500-word abstract of your paper.  If accepted, you are expected to submit a full paper prior to the Roundtable, and you will be presenting the paper at the conference.  The paper will not be stored in a public repository or published in proceedings.

(2) Panels: please submit a 1500-word description of your panel.  The description should include: i) description of the topic, ii)  biographies of the panel members, ii) organization of the panel.  It is a requirement that panels focus tightly on a specific emergent topic, technology, phenomena, policy, or the like, with clear connections between the presentations.

Proposals should be sent to:
Please include the subject line: “IER 2018 proposal”

We are also interested in receiving expressions of interest to serve as a commenter/discussant for another person’s paper, as each author with an accepted paper will be paired with a commenter who will provide formal feedback and comments during the conference (after the initial paper presentation; discussants will be included in the official conference program). Expressions of interest should be sent to: by April 16, 2018, although decisions will be made on a rolling basis after March 5, 2018 (the paper notification deadline). Please include the subject line: “IER 2018 commenter.”
Submission of Proposals (papers and panels):  Monday February 5, 2018
Notification of Acceptance: Monday March 5, 2018
Full Paper Deadline: Monday April 23, 2018
Registration Deadline: Friday May 4, 2018
Conference Dates: Thursday & Friday May 17-18, 2018

More information on conference website:

Joining the iSchool at the University of Kentucky

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be joining the University of Kentucky’s School of Information Science (part of the College of Communication and Information – the UK iSchool) as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2017. I’ll be part of the School’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) program (offering BS/BA and MS degrees). The iSchool also houses a college-wide PhD program in Communication (with an emphasis in Information Studies).

Sensors, Cameras, and the New ‘Normal’ in Clandestine Migration

My paper, “Sensors, Cameras, and the New ‘Normal’ in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border” (co-authored with Ricardo Gomez and Verónica Guajardo) has now been published in the journal Surveillance & Society (open access). The article is available online, and is part of a special issue on “Race, Communities and Informers.”

In her opening editorial, Simone Browne summarizes our paper as follows:

In their article, “Sensors, Cameras, and the New ‘Normal’ in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the US-Mexico Border,” Bryce Clayton Newell, Ricardo Gomez, and Verónica E. Guajardo provide a necessary, qualitative analysis of the experiences of clandestine migration across the Mexico-US border. Through their in-depth interviews at the Kino Border Initiative migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, Newell, Gomez and Guajardo fill a gap in much of the research on surveillance at the borderlands, specifically answering how people from Mexico and Central America who are attempting to cross into the US consider the role of “the Wall” and of other surveillance technologies such as camera towers, border patrol body-worn cameras, ground sensors, helicopters and drones. In seeking to understand how their research informants (migrant-aid workers and volunteers, people who had been recently deported from the US, and those recently arrived at the border who were preparing to make their crossing) make use of their information-sharing networks to overcome dangers, smugglers and other experiences of vulnerability, the authors make a valuable research intervention at a time [when the] US government is expanding surveillance measures that could see the current administration surpass the previous one’s deportation record of over one million people, which earned former president Barack Obama the title “Deporter-in-Chief”.


My “Collateral Visibility” work cited in the New York Times

I’m thrilled that my research into police adoption and use of body-worn cameras (and what I call the “collateral visibility” of individual civilians captured on video due to liberal public disclosure of body camera footage) is cited in the lead feature article in the October 23, 2016 issue of the New York Times Magazine (link). The story is very well done and worth a read.

A draft of my forthcoming paper referenced in the NY Times piece is available here.

PLSC-Europe and the TILTING Perspectives 2017 Conference

I’m happy to announce that we’ve announced the call for participation in TILT’s biannual conference, TILTing Perspectives 2017: Regulating a Connected World, to be held at Tilburg University (in Tilburg, Netherlands) on May 17-19, 2017. As part of TILTing 2017, we are also hosting the 2nd European edition of the Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC-Europe). I am co-chairing PLSC-Europe with Bert-Jaap Koops, as well as coordinating the general privacy and data protection track for the TILTing conference. More information can be found online at TILT’s website, and a larger conference website will be online soon.

New Call for Papers: Visual Data as Accountability, Resistance, and Surveillance

I am happy to announce a new call for papers for an upcoming special (paper) symposium section of Law & Social Inquiry. I am co-editing the special issue with Sarah Brayne (UT-Austin, Sociology) and Karen Levy (Cornell, Information Science). LSI is a respected law and society journal sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and published quarterly by Wiley. The call follows (and is available as a PDF).

Call for Papers (abstracts due August 10, 2016)

Visual Data as Accountability, Resistance, and Surveillance

 For a special issue of Law & Social Inquiry (Journal links: Wiley | American Bar Foundation)

Edited by: Sarah Brayne (UT-Austin), Karen E. C. Levy (Cornell), and Bryce Clayton Newell (Tilburg)


The capture, analysis, and dissemination of visual data—including video (with or without audio), photographs, and other visual recordings—has become ubiquitous. Facilitated by digitization, globalization, and the proliferation of mobile media, visual data is transforming the documentation of activities in a wide range of contexts, including policing, legal adjudication, war, human rights struggles, and civic action. Visual data is being collected by state actors and individual citizens, each often documenting the actions of the other. The use of this data as evidence (both inside and outside formal legal proceedings) raises significant issues related to privacy and ethics, authentication and credibility, interpretation, inequality, power, and legibility. Law is implicated at both the point of recording (or documentation) and during downstream activities, such as when recordings are shared or posted online, publicly disclosed under freedom of information laws, or introduced into evidence during legal proceedings.

Different technologies afford different viewpoints. Visual data constitutes a unique form of information that presents emergent legal and policy questions because of its technical form and social effects. The mobilization of visual data can shape and reshape public opinion, representation, suppression, visibility, inequality, and admissibility of evidence; it can serve to incriminate or exonerate. Visual evidence can legitimize certain accounts of events while calling others into question. And, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, more people can capture video and photographs than ever before, at a moment’s notice, simply by pulling out their phones—and can distribute them instantaneously, creating visual records of all types of behaviors and conflicts, from confrontations between citizens and police to political gaffes, from sex tapes to dashboard camera footage of traffic-related events. The recent adoption of police body cameras and the use of video by bystanders as a tool for inverse surveillance demonstrate our increasing reliance on video as a check on power, as well as a source of ostensible authority when accounts about “what really happened” are in conflict. At the same time, the crucial role of interpretation suggests video is not as much of an “objective observer” or independent witness as it is sometimes claimed to be, and visual evidence may have unforeseen implications for weighing evidence in civil or criminal cases—or in the court of public opinion.

Permissive freedom of information laws in some jurisdictions have also led to recordings made by the police ending up on websites like YouTube—alongside myriad channels of police misconduct videos filmed by citizens. All of this footage increases the secondary visibility of those captured in recordings, and the video itself can also be analyzed as (potentially) a new form of big data. Audio and video streams contain biometric information that can be detected, analyzed, and compared against existing databases—while also adding new data to these databases in the process.

The creation, dissemination, mediation, interpretation, and quantification of visual data are all fundamentally social processes. From citizen video of police (mis)conduct to the visual documentation of human rights abuses, the process of transforming material experience into digital evidence can facilitate accountability or resistance. These citizen-led forms of surveillance also function as forms of resistance to more panoptic forms of state-sponsored video collection and surveillance (e.g. camera-enabled drones, CCTV cameras). On the other hand, police-worn body cameras also act as an accountability mechanism, even though they face away from officers and collect evidence about—and document the conduct of—civilians. These forms of mobile, user-controlled cameras significantly alter earlier reliance on more static and passive video collection.

As technological developments far outpace empirical research on—and legal regulation of—visual data, this special paper symposium in Law & Social Inquiry will provide an opportunity to highlight new empirical work with connections to law and policy, serve as a venue to build theory about a rapidly changing subject, and showcase research relevant to a variety of stakeholders—including lawyers, judges, law enforcement, legislators and policymakers, activists and civil and human rights organizations, technologists, and academics in a variety of fields.

We welcome contributions that present original empirical research; offer conceptual, critical, or theoretical analyses; or address the unique legal, ethical, and policy questions implicated by visual documentation. We welcome scholarly contributions that come from—or that cross—academic disciplines such as sociology, law, information science, anthropology, science and technology studies, criminology, geography, communications and media studies, and computer science.

We encourage submissions addressing (but not limited to) such subjects as:

  • Body-worn cameras, dashcams, policing practices
  • Citizen video/video as human rights advocacy
  • Covert and overt recording
  • Video as surveillance and sousveillance
  • Resistance to and avoidance of audio or visual surveillance
  • Design and regulation of audio or visual surveillance systems
  • Unanticipated consequences of audio or visual records
  • Use and interpretation of audio or video as evidence in legal proceedings
  • Data storage, access, and retention policies
  • Algorithmic practices of metadata extraction from video content
  • Image processing
  • Technical means of privacy preservation and authentication
  • Audio and video analytics and forensics
  • Audio and video redaction and privacy concerns
  • Live streaming
  • Video/audio and public opinion
  • Voyeurism, victimhood, and the ethics of viewing
  • Affective aspects of video
  • Embedding human values into the design of video-related technologies or systems (e.g. value sensitive design or privacy by design)
  • Implications for inequality
  • Facial recognition or other forms of biometrics enabled by audio or visual documentation and recording

Deadlines and anticipated timeline:

  • Initial abstract submission deadline (~ 500 words):August 10, 2016 
  • Authors notified of (tentative) acceptance:August 30, 2016
  • Full papers due (based on accepted abstracts):December 1, 2016
  • Papers sent out for peer-review: mid-December, 2016
  • Reviews returned to authors (with editorial decisions): expected, Feb.-Mar. 2017
  • Publication in 2017

Specifics about submissions:

Initial abstracts should contain approximately 500 words. Subsequent full paper submissions should contain fewer than 10,000 words (including footnotes and citations), and should contain a 200-word abstract and biographical information about the authors on a cover page. Invited full paper submissions will undergo formal double-blind peer review, which is expected to take between 1 and 3 months (submissions that are not selected for peer-review will be released back to the authors quickly). All submissions should be submitted in editable Word (*.doc/x) or *.rtf formats, and should adhere to the formatting and citation requirements of Law & Social Inquiry (available at

All submissions should be sent to the editors via email to Please do not submit to this special call via the regular Law & Social Inquiry journal submission portal.

Additional questions may be sent to the editors at the same address.

My 2016 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews @PrawfsBlawg

Over at PrawfsBlawg, Howard Wasserman has just posted my 2016 Meta-Ranking of Flagship US Law Reviews (thanks Howard!). Read the post I wrote and see the rankings HERE.

I decided to create a meta-ranking of the possible contenders for gauging the relative importance of journals: US News Overall Ranking (averaged from 2010-2017), US News Peer Reputation Ranking (also averaged from 2010-2017), W&L Combined Ranking (at default weighting; 2007-2014), and Google Scholar Metrics law journal rankings (averaging the h-index and h-median of each journal, as proposed here by Robert Anderson). I’ve ranked each journal within each ranking system, averaged these four ranks using a 25% weighting for each, and computed and ranked the final scores. I think this approach benefits from incorporating a couple different forms of impact evaluation (W&L + Google) while not disregarding the general sentiment that law school “prestige” (USN combined rank + peer reputation rank, each averaged over an 8-year period) is an important factor in law review placement decisions.

Below is a graphical representation of the correlation between my “meta-ranking” (top 149 journals) and these four other ranking systems:

MetaRank correlations

I have also calculated the Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient for the MetaRank versus each of the four underlying rankings (for schools ranked in the top 100 in the table above):

USN USNpr Google WLU
MetaRank 0.913 0.930 0.867 0.902

I would love to get feedback about whether you think there is any usefulness to doing this in this way, whether you would suggest alternative weightings, different combinations of rankings, or if I have overlooked something (entirely possible, as I was paying more attention to your comments on the Angsting Thread than anything else when I put this together), etc. If it seems that folks are interested and that this might be useful, I can also post full ranking (I’ve ranked 194 journals). I am also working on an attempt to evaluate equivalencies between specialty journals and general ones, and I’m happy to take suggestions or share my initial thoughts on doing that if you’d like to get in touch.

Paper accepted to U. Penn. J. Int’l Law!

A paper I co-authored with my colleagues at TILT (Bert-Jaap Koops, Tjerk Timan, Ivan Škorvánek, Tomislav Chokrevski, and Maša Galič), entitled “A Typology of Privacy“, has been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. We workshopped an earlier version of this paper at the Privacy Law Scholar’s Conference (PLSC) in 2015. I think this paper makes a significant contribution to the privacy literature and I’m really proud of what our team was able to accomplish here. The paper is available at SSRN.

Privacy Typology

The abstract is here:

Despite the difficulty of capturing the nature and boundaries of privacy, it is important to conceptualize it. Some scholars develop unitary theories of privacy in the form of a unified conceptual core; others offer classifications of privacy that make meaningful distinctions between different types of privacy. We argue that the latter approach is underdeveloped and in need of improvement. In this paper, we propose a typology of privacy that is more systematic and comprehensive than any existing model.

Our typology is developed, first, by a systematic analysis of constitutional protections of privacy in nine jurisdictions: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia. This analysis yields a broad overview of the types of privacy that constitutional law seeks to protect. Second, we have studied literature from privacy scholars in the same nine jurisdictions, in order to identify the main dimensions along which privacy can be classified. Our analysis led us to structure types of privacy in a two-dimensional mode, consisting of eight basic types of privacy (bodily, intellectual, spatial, decisional, communicational, associational, proprietary, and behavioral privacy), with an overlay of a ninth type (informational privacy) that overlaps, but does not coincide, with the eight basic types.

Because of the comprehensive and large-scale comparative nature of the analysis, this paper offers a fundamental contribution to the theoretical literature on privacy. Our typology can serve as an analytic and explanatory model that helps to understand what privacy is, why privacy cannot be reduced to informational privacy, how privacy relates to the right to privacy, and how the right to privacy varies, but also corresponds, across a broad range of countries..