Category Archives: Privacy

Valentine’s Day Quiz

Can you name the U.S. Supreme Court Justice?

1.  It must have brought a Flood of emotions: his clerks wrote him a card on Valentine’s Day, 1985, that read “Respondents are red, petitioners are blue. We’re very lucky to have a Justice like you.”

2.  “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”  It’s no mystery that this passage comes from the closing paragraph of the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), authored by this Justice.

3. Rush Limbaugh’s wedding to the “Jacksonville Jaguar” Marta Fitzgerald, was held at this Justice’s home in 1994.  As the officiant, the Justice may have been required to ask a question or two.  Alas, the couple ending up splitting a decade later.

4. Toxic love triangle: Carol Anne Bond was excited when her closest friend announced she was pregnant. Excitement turned to rage when Bond learned that her husband was the child’s father. Bond went to the former BFF’s home at least 24 times in order to spread toxic chemicals on surfaces her nemesis would touch; she was prosecuted under federal law for her actions. In ruling that the Chemical Weapons Convention did not apply, this Justice explained why he was not upholding the mandate in this case: “The global need to prevent chemical warfare does not require the Federal Government to reach into the kitchen cupboard.”  Bond v. United States (2014).

5. This notorious Justice penned the majority opinion in Sole v. Wyner (2007).  The case involved a rebuffed attempt by Wyner to assemble nude individuals into a peace sign on a Florida beach, on Valentine’s Day, 2003.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Data Privacy Legal Hackathon

Data Privacy Legal HackathonThis coming weekend, on February 8 and 9, Brooklyn Law School’s Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy (“BLIP”) Clinic along with other groups, is organizing a Data Privacy Legal Hackathon. The event will take place in three locations: Dumbo (Brooklyn), London, and San Francisco. Participants will compete in a weekend-long hackathon to create tools that solve common legal problems in the field of data privacy.

A current list of the projects as they develop is available on the Hacker League Project Page.

Speakers and judges include:

New York: BLS Professor of Law Susan Herman and BLIP Founder Professor Jonathan Askin as well as several BLS alumni, Hon. Ann Aiken (District of OR), David Wainberg (AppNexus), Wilfried De Wever (HiiL), Doc Searls (VRM Harvard Berkman Center), K. Krasnow Waterman (MIT), Amyt Eckstein (Moses & Singer), Jason Tenenbaum (Rashbaum Associates), Dona Fraser (ESRB), Solon Barocas (Doctoral Candidate, NYU), Sol Irvine (Yuson & Irvine), Heather Federman (Online Trust Alliance)

London:  Dr. Ian Brown (Oxford Internet Institute), Dr. Ian Walden (Queen Mary University), John Cummings (Innovation Partners), Stefan Magdalinski (Mydex)

San Francisco: K. Krasnow Waterman (MIT), Brian Behlendorf (Mozilla Board), Michelle Dennedy, author of The Privacy Engineer’s Manifesto” (McAfee), John Buckman (EFF) There is still space left at all the locations for participants who want to volunteer. Sign up at the hacker league website to add your skills and join a project.

For more details on the event, see the post Data + Law =  Data Privacy Legal Hackathon at the site Brooklyn Tech Triangle.

Regulating the Digital Investigative State

This week, University of Illinois College of Law Assistant Professor Law Stephen Rushin discussed his article The Legislative Response to Mass Police Surveillance scheduled for publication in volume 79 of the Brooklyn Law Review. The abstract for the article reads:

Police departments have rapidly adopted mass surveillance technologies in an effort to fight crime and improve efficiency. I have previously described this phenomenon as the growth of the digitally efficient investigative state. This new technological order transforms traditional law enforcement by improving the efficiency of everyday policing activities and retaining copious amounts of data on both suspicious and unsuspicious behavior. Empirical evidence shows that police surveillance technologies are common and rapidly expanding in urban America. In the absence of legislative action, police departments have adopted widely disparate internal policies. The Supreme Court had the opportunity to reign in the scope of police surveillance in Jones v. United States. But the Court could not agree on whether technological improvements in efficiency transform an otherwise legal policing tactic into an unconstitutional search. Nor could the Court agree on whether a person may have a reasonable expectation to privacy in public movement. Post-Jones, the jurisprudence of police surveillance emerged as incoherent as ever.

I have previously argued that the judiciary should regulate police surveillance technologies. While it remains possible that the judiciary will someday make such a doctrinal shift, the immediate responsibility for regulating police surveillance technology falls on state legislatures. In this Article, I offer a model statute to regulate mass police surveillance. The model statute limits indiscriminate data collection. It also caps data retention for personally identifiable information. It excludes from criminal court any locational evidence obtained in violation of the statute. And it gives the state attorney general authority to bring suit against police departments that fail to abide by the law. This legislation would give discretion to police departments to craft data policies fitting their city’s unique needs, while also encouraging consistency and fairness.

The 20 minute interview, available here, aired on Law and Disorder Radio, a weekly radio program, addresses law enforcement use of different technological replacements for traditional behavior. At first, these innovations seemed a good thing but recently local law enforcement began to utilize extreme data retention using Automatic License Plate Readers and security cameras with facial recognition. These tools allow law enforcement to monitor an entire community invasively without invading any legally protected areas of privacy. As a result, the public is just beginning to learn the dangers of big data collection by the state. His proposal deals with the length of time local law enforcement retain data.


Tracking and surveillance technology facilitates unprecedented levels of data collection about individuals, often without their knowledge or consent. Government use of that technology has generated controversy and questions about civil liberties and privacy rights, How, or if, government can use these technologies responsibly is a major issue. For more on the subject, see the BLS Library copy of Privacy and Surveillance With New Technologies by Peter P. Swire and Kenesa Ahmad (Call # KF5399 .P75 2012). It offers an overview of government surveillance using new technology and selects five issues (Video surveillance, Border searches of electronic devices, Communication surveillance, Location surveillance, and online tracking) that present complex challenges to civil liberty advocates and government officials alike.