Category Archives: Research

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..

Paper accepted to Indiana Law Journal!

My new paper, “Collateral Visibility: Police Body Cameras, Public Disclosure, and Privacy,” on body-worn camera adoption, privacy, and public access to BWC footage has been accepted by the Indiana Law Journal!  The draft (which is undergoing an update) is available on SSRN (http://ssrn.com/abstract=2740377). All comments, corrections, etc. are welcome.

The abstract follows:

Law enforcement use of body-worn cameras has recently become a subject of significant public and scholarly debate. This article presents the findings from an empirical examination of the legal and social implications of body-worn camera adoption by two police departments in Washington State. In particular, this study focuses on the public disclosure of body-worn camera footage under Washington State’s Public Records Act (PRA), provides an analysis of state privacy and access to information law, and presents empirical findings related to officer attitudes towards—and perceptions of—the impact of these laws on their work, their own personal privacy, and the privacy of the citizens they serve. The law in Washington State requires law enforcement agencies to disclose substantial amounts of footage, and options for withholding footage based on privacy grounds are very limited under the PRA and recent Washington State Supreme Court case law. Additionally, broad public records requests for body-worn camera footage have posed significant problems for civilian privacy. Police officers report strong concerns about public disclosure of their footage, largely because of the potential for such footage to impact civilian privacy interests, and officers also report high levels of disagreement with the current requirements to disclose most footage to any member of the public. However, officers are supportive of limited access policies that would allow individuals connected to an incident to obtain footage. This article concludes by making a normative argument for restricting public access to some body-worn camera footage on privacy grounds while still preserving adequate space for robust civilian oversight and police accountability.

My piece @ Slate Magazine: Body-Worn Cameras, Transparency, and the US Border Patrol

I’ve written a piece for Slate Magazine’s Future Tense section, entitled Body-Worn Cameras Alone Won’t Bring Transparency to the Border Patrol, where I argue that the US Customs and Border Protection agency’s historical lack of transparency suggests that without good policies, the cameras will become another tool for surveillance.  

Adopting body-worn cameras as part of a larger project to make the agency more transparent and accountable is potentially a step in the right direction. But without the implementation of proper policies for camera use and public disclosure of footage, it won’t do much to overcome the agency’s historical lack of transparency and its general resistance to releasing video footage to the public. Unless CBP commits to greater transparency and external oversight as part of its body-worn camera program, the cameras may become just another tool of government surveillance wielded by the state without adequate oversight.

Check out the whole piece here.

Paper accepted to Surveillance & Society!

A paper I co-authored with Ricardo Gomez and Veronica Guajardo, entitled “Sensors, Cameras, and the New ‘Normal’ in Clandestine Migration: How Undocumented Migrants Experience Surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico Border,” has just been accepted to Surveillance & Society. I’m really proud of this paper and the research we put into this project, which was funded by the University of Washington Royalty Research Fund. Get a pre-press PDF here.

The abstract is here:

This paper presents findings from an exploratory qualitative study of the experiences and perceptions of undocumented (irregular) migrants to the United States with various forms of surveillance in the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico.  Based on fieldwork conducted primarily in a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico, we find that migrants generally have a fairly sophisticated understanding about U.S. Border Patrol surveillance and technology use and that they consciously engage in forms of resistance or avoidance.  Heightened levels of border surveillance may be deterring a minority of migrants from attempting immediate future crossings, but most interviewees were undeterred in their desire to enter the U.S., preferring to find ways to avoid government surveillance.  Furthermore, migrants exhibit a general lack of trust in the “promise” of technology to improve their circumstances and increase their safety during clandestine border-crossing—often due to fears that technology use makes them vulnerable to state surveillance, tracking, and arrest.

Chapter published in new book: Privacy, Security and Accountability

A paper I authored, entitled “Mass Surveillance, Privacy, and Freedom: A Case for Public Access to Government Surveillance Information“,  is now out in the new book Privacy, Security and Accountability: Ethics, Law and Policy published by Rowman & Littlefield International  and edited by Adam D. Moore. RLI | Amazon

The book also includes contributions from Adam D. Moore and Michael A. Katell, Anita Allen, Helen Nissenbaum, James Stacey Taylor,  Judith Wagner DeCew, Dorota Mokrosinska, Annabelle Lever, Kay Mathieson, Kenneth Einar Himma, Alan Rubel,  and Nadine Strossen.

Privacy, Security and Accountability
Privacy, Security and Accountability (Rowman & Littlefield Int’l, 2015)

Paper accepted at The Information Society!

My paper, Information Seeking, Technology Use, and Vulnerability among Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border, written with Ricardo Gomez and Verónica Guajardo, has just been accepted at The Information Society (a well-respected multidisciplinary journal published by Taylor and Francis). The paper’s abstract is below:

Information Seeking, Technology Use, and Vulnerability among Migrants at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Bryce Clayton Newell, Ricardo Gomez, and Verónica E. Guajardo

Through interviews with migrants and migrant aid-workers at a shelter in the border town of Nogales, Mexico, we examine how undocumented migrants are seeking, acquiring, understanding, and using information prior to, and during, migration across the U.S.-Mexico border. Our study examines migrants’ perceptions of humanitarian service and the use of so-called “border disturbance technologies” by activists to help prevent the death of migrants in the desert, finding that migrants appreciate water-caching efforts but generally distrust technologies they feel could subject them to surveillance by border agents. Exploratory in nature and based on a small sample, our findings are not necessarily representative of the broader population, but provide rich evidence of the prevalence of word-of-mouth information seeking and use of cell phones over other information technologies, and explore the ambivalent nature of information technology use in the vulnerable setting of life at the border. In particular, we find that mobile phones help migrants meet their communication needs, but also increase their exposure to crime and abuse.

Presentation at the American Society of Criminology conference

I spent the last few days in Washington D.C. at the American Society of Criminology‘s annual conference, where I also presented some of my on-going police body-worn camera research.  I presented on Wednesday (title: Policing’s Third Eye: Body-Worn Camera Adoption by Two Police Departments in Washington State) during one of a few panels devoted to body camera research – there’s a lot going on in this space right now, and it was fun to hear about all the great research being done on body camera adoption!

In the News: Augmented Reality (AR) research featured in UW Today

A policy paper I helped develop and write while working with the UW Tech Policy Lab at the University of Washington has just been featured in UW Today. The paper summarizes our research into the legal and technical implications of AR technologies, and provides some recommendations that policymakers should take into account when considering regulation.

The White Paper is available here: Augmented Reality: A Technology and Policy Primer.  An earlier workshop paper we presented at an UPSIDE workshop at UbiComp ’14 is available on SSRN here: Augmented Reality: Hard Problems of Law and Policy.

From the UW Today article:

Though still in its relative infancy, augmented reality promises systems that can aid people with mobility or other limitations, providing real-time information about their immediate environment as well as hands-free obstacle avoidance, language translation, instruction and much more. From enhanced eyewear like Google Glass to Microsoft’s wearable HoloLens system, tech, gaming and advertisement industries are already investing in and deploying augmented reality devices and systems.

But augmented reality will also bring challenges for law, public policy and privacy, especially pertaining to how information is collected and displayed. Issues regarding surveillance and privacy, free speech, safety, intellectual property and distraction — as well as potential discrimination — are bound to follow.

The Tech Policy Lab brings together faculty and students from the School of Law, Information School and Computer Science & Engineering Department and other campus units to think through issues of technology policy. “Augmented Reality: A Technology and Policy Primer” is the lab’s first official white paper aimed at a policy audience. The paper is based in part on research presented at the 2015 International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, or UbiComp conference.

Image credit: Leonard Low / Wikimedia commons