Paper: Officer Attitudes Towards Body-Worn Camera Activation

A pre-press draft of a new paper I’ve written with Ruben Greidanus is now available on ResearchGate and SSRN. The paper is forthcoming in the North Carolina Law Review’s 2017-18 symposium issue. We would appreciate any feedback.

The abstract:

In the past few years, questions about when police officers should activate (or not activate) their body-worn cameras during police-public encounters have risen into the foreground of public and scholarly debate. Understanding how officers perceive body-worn cameras and policies surrounding activation (and how they view these as impacting their ability to make discretionary choices while on the job) can provide greater insight into why, when, and how officers may attempt to exercise their discretion in the form of resistance or avoidance to body cameras, seen as technologies of accountability. In this paper, we examine officer attitudes about how much discretion they ought to have about when (or when not) to activate their cameras, what concerns they have about overbroad, overly punitive, or ambiguous activation policies, and their perceptions about how frequently cameras ought to be activated in specific circumstances (i.e., general police-public interactions, arrest situations, domestic violence calls, traffic stops, when taking statements from witnesses or victims, and when responding to calls inside homes and medical facilities). These findings are drawn from a multi-year and mixed-methods study of police officer adoption of body-worn cameras in two municipal police departments in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States from 2014 to 2017.

New paper: Visual Surveillance and Voyeurism in Criminal Law

A new paper I’ve written with colleagues at Tilburg University and Melbourne Law School has just been accepted to Law & Social Inquiry. We expect publication in mid-2018. Information below:

The Reasonableness of Remaining Unobserved: A Comparative Analysis of Visual Surveillance and Voyeurism in Criminal Law

Bert-Jaap Koops, Bryce Clayton Newell, Andrew Roberts, Ivan Škorvánek, and Maša Galič

The criminalization of offensive behavior is an important form of privacy protection, but few studies exist of visual observation in criminal law. We address this gap by researching when nonconsensual visual observation is deemed harmful enough to trigger criminal sanctions, and on what basis the law construes the “reasonableness of remaining unobserved,” through a nine-country comparative study (Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, UK, and US). We distinguish between a voyeurism-centric approach (focusing largely on nudity and sex) and a broader, intrusion-centric approach (such as observation inside closed spaces). Both approaches explicitly or implicitly reflect “reasonable” privacy expectations, by listing criteria for situations in which people can reasonably expect to remain unobserved or unrecorded. We discuss these criteria to present a framework for criminalizing nonconsensual visual observation, encompassing factors of technology use, place, subject matter, and surreptitiousness that create substantial disruptions in impression management, supplemented by factors of intent, identifiability, and counter-indicators to prevent overcriminalization. We explain this framework as relevant for protecting visual aspects of privacy in view of individuals’ underlying interests in autonomy, and show how visual-observation crimes can be interpreted as ways to assist people in their impression management in situations where disruptions occur in self-presentation and where normal techniques of rebalancing impressions provide insufficient redress. Discussing whether legal frameworks reflect contemporary socio-technical realities, we observe a gap in legal protection relating to non-covert taking of autonomy-undermining images in public as a major up-coming challenge to impression management.

New book: Privacy in Public Space

I’m very happy to announce that a new book I’ve co-edited with Tjerk Timan (TNO) and Bert-Jaap Koops (TILT) is now available for pre-order via Edward Elgar’s website or Amazon. The book, Privacy in Public Space: Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges, will be out in November, and is being published as part of the Elgar Law, Technology and Society book series. The Edward Elgar website also includes a form to recommend the book to your local (university) librarian.


This book examines privacy in public space from both legal and regulatory perspectives. With on-going technological innovations such as mobile cameras, WiFi tracking, drones and augmented reality, aspects of citizens’ lives are increasingly vulnerable to intrusion. The contributions describe contemporary challenges to achieving privacy and anonymity in physical public space, at a time when legal protection remains limited compared to ‘private’ space. To address this problem, the book clearly shows why privacy in public space needs defending. Different ways of conceptualizing and shaping such protection are explored, for example through ‘privacy bubbles’, obfuscation and surveillance transparency, as well as revising the assumptions underlying current privacy laws.

Table of contents:

Introduction: Conceptual directions for privacy in public space
Tjerk Timan, Bryce Clayton Newell, and Bert-Jaap Koops

Part I: Philosophical and Empirical Insights
1. Conceptualising Space and Place: Lessons from Geography for the Debate on Privacy in Public
Bert-Jaap Koops and Maša Galic

2. Hidden in plain sight
Michael Nagenborg

3. Privacy in public and the contextual conditions of agency
Maria Brincker

4. A politico-economic perspective on privacy in public spaces
Karsten Mause

5. Visually Distant and Virtually Close: Public and Private Spaces in the Archives de la Planète (1909–1931) and Life in a Day (2011)
Julia M. Hildebrand

Part II: Law and Regulation
6. Exposure and concealment in digitized public spaces
Steven B. Zhao

7. Covering up: American and European legal approaches to public facial anonymity after S.A.S. v France
Angela Daly

8. Privacy impact notices to address the privacy pollution of mass surveillance
A. Michael Froomkin

9. Privacy in Public Spaces: The Problem of Out-of-Body DNA
Albert E. Scherr

10. The Internet of Other People’s Things
Meg Leta Jones

11. The need for privacy in public space
Tjerk Timan

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.