Jeffrey L. Vagle was a Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His research interests include surveillance law, cryptography and cybersecurity law, electronic privacy, Internet architecture, and networked economies and societies. A particular focus of his work is the study of the societal, political, historical, and economic effects of government surveillance, especially among marginalized or disenfranchised populations. Mr. Vagle writes and speaks regularly on privacy, data security, surveillance, and other cyberlaw-related topics, and is the author of several law review and technical articles, including, most recently, “Furtive Encryption: Power, Trust, and the Constitutional Cost of Collective Surveillance,” forthcoming in the Indiana Law Journal. He earned his JD from Temple University School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal. Mr. Vagle is also a veteran, serving in both the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry non-commissioned officer and in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer.
Among the principles that govern the current state of technology, two stand out as fundamental to our understanding of the information security problem. First, software is everywhere. The technology we adopt at an exponentially increasing rate is nearly always software at its core.
As Federal District Judge Jeffrey White made plain in his order granting the government partial summary judgment yesterday in Jewel v. NSA, current judicial interpretations of both standing doctrine and the state secrets privilege remain formidable obstacles to those seeking to challenge government surveillance programs in U.S. courts.
A recent Wall Street Journal article revealed an ongoing DEA program designed to use automated license plate readers to build a real-time database of vehicle movement throughout the United States. This database would also store this data, giving government agencies the ability to retroactively track the movements of millions of Americans. As we've seen with similar programs, the scope of the effort will inevitably begin to creep.
Recently, Orin Kerr and I had a brief conversation on Twitter regarding the Fourth Amendment and the content/non-content distinction. Specifically, Orin asked those of us who subscribe to the mosaic theory of intelligence if some large amount of metadata can become content, can some small amount of content become metadata by the same logic?
The path from Laquan McDonald’s summary execution by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to the reluctant release — over a year later — by the Chicago Police Department of video of the killing shines yet another spotlight on the disproportionate use of force by police against young black men and women and the failure of authorities to identify and punish this behavior.
In William Gibson's latest novel, "The Peripheral," he imagines a future in which people have the ability to effortlessly encrypt spoken conversations in real time, in ways that are unbreakable to the artificial intelligences deployed by governments to eavesdrop on everyone.
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution seems straightforward on its face: At its core, it tells us that our “persons, houses, papers, and effects” are to be protected against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Before any government agent can perform a search or seizure, they must first obtain a warrant, based on “probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
"“CFAA is a ridiculously broad statute or, at least it has been interpreted that way by many courts,” Jeffrey Vagle, an affiliate scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, told me. “It was written in a completely different era with respect to how we use computers. It was not a well-thought-out law, and that’s come back to haunt us.”"
"Is one failed attempt to crack a password really enough to embroil Assange in a felony hacking case? "For the CFAA, unfortunately yes," says Jeffrey Vagle, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor and current affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. He points to a long history of using the overly expansive wording of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to hit hackers accused of even trivial acts with serious charges. "The fact that his involvement is de minimus isn't enough to stop an indictment, because the CFAA is just so broad.""
""When you do hear about lawsuits with respect to photos on social media, it usually is in a civil action," Professor Jeffrey Vagle, executive director of the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, told NBC News. "This is a big deal because it is a criminal action.""
"Cases in which prosecutors have signaled interest in the Apple tool, or one like it, continue to pile up. In Manhattan, for instance, the district attorney’s office says it holds 205 encrypted iPhones that neither it nor Apple can currently unlock, up from 111 in November. Such pent-up demand for the tool spells danger, said Andrea Matwyshyn, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, since its widespread dissemination presents a clear threat to the security of innocent iPhone users.
"“The government is making the argument that the past is prologue” even though technology has changed, said Jeffrey Vagle, executive director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School."
Ours is a time of ubiquitous surveillance. Our actions online and in public are routinely monitored, both with and without our consent, using the “smart” devices we’ve embraced as the tools of modern self-expression, connectivity, and convenience. This is the age of the biometrically quantified self, mass governmental telecommunications surveillance, location-aware technologies, marketing analytics, drones, and Big Data.
You have reason to believe you’re being monitored by the government, that they are following you and cataloging everywhere you go and everyone you talk to. The knowledge haunts you, and has a chilling effect on everything you do. But can you sue to stop it? In this month’s episode, the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles speaks with Jeffrey Vagle about his new book, Being Watched: Legal Challenges to Government Surveillance about the current challenges to government surveillance, and a seminal Supreme Court case in 1972 whose effects are still being felt today.