Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.