Ryan Calo is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law and a former research director at CIS. A nationally recognized expert in law and emerging technology, Ryan's work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Wired Magazine, and other news outlets. Ryan serves on several advisory committees, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Future of Privacy Forum. He co-chairs the American Bar Association Committee on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence and serves on the program committee of National Robotics Week.
I heard a rumor that I hope isn’t true. Specifically, I heard that opting out of behavioral profiling may not stop advertising companies from tracking you as you travel across the Web. Rather, according to the rumor, in many cases you merely opt out of seeing the tailored ads your web history might otherwise trigger.
The ability to opt out of behavioral profiling essentially underpins the argument for self-regulation by the industry. The idea is that (1) people like tailored ads and (2) those that worry about the practice, for instance, from a privacy perspective, can opt out of it. Setting aside the apparent frailty of cookie-based opt out (when you delete your cookies, you delete your opt out as well) and the availability of other means to track users (like flash cookies), this seems pretty straightforward and convincing.
But what does “opting out” mean, exactly? A close look at the Network Advertising Initiative website, which offers an opt out tool on behalf of most major online advertisers, turns up no guarantee that opting out will stop a company from logging where a user has traveled.
The most interesting aspect of cyberspace is not what happens for a time to its visitors. It’s not the absence of regulation nor the presence of perfect regulation; it’s not the staggering variety of content nor the sudden arbitrariness of geography; it’s not the constant threat of surveillance nor the occasional absence of accountability. The most interesting aspect of cyberspace flows from its status as an engine of realization: cyberspace widens the range of what we think of as possible. The Web is home to phenomena that never quite happened before—not because the technology was untenable, but because no one thought to do it. The importance of cyberspace is not what occurs to you when you visit; it’s what occurs to you.
This is hardly an isolated example.
826 National is an incredible non-profit dedicated to improving writing and other skills among children ages to six to eighteen. A few days after the election of Barack Obama, 826 centers in seven cities asked children to offer advice to the new president. The result was the deservedly celebrated book Thanks And Have Fun Running The Country.
As you might imagine, this book is a major tour de cute. One 9-year-old in Los Angles opines that if he were president, he “would help all nations, even Hawaii.” A Seattle 7-year-old suggests that President Obama “turn on the heater, so it won’t be cold.” In short: awwwww.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when I came across the following suggestion from a Boston 12-year-old: “Dear, Barack Obama, … You should also build cameras all around our city to find out who is breaking the law, and also in movie theatres so we can tell who is making illegal copies.”
Wait, what??? Did the DOJ and RIAA have a child together? The rest of this writer’s suggestions are eminently reasonable—more power efficient cars, less smoking, and the like. Still, it’s not often that you see a 12-year-old proponent of ubiquitous surveillance!
The ACLU of Northern California has published a primer (PDF) on the advantages to businesses of good privacy and free speech practices. The primer assembles many real-world instances of harms and benefits to companies due to their choices around user privacy and value speech. Congratulations to Nicky, Chris, and no doubt others in putting this together.
NO: It Is the Way to Kill Innovation
By Ryan Calo
The year is 1910. Orville and Wilbur Wright are testing their plane and happen to fly hundreds of feet over a stretch of land you own. Could you sue them?
Technically, you could. In 1910, your property rights extended ad coelum et ad inferos—up to heaven and down to hell. Anyone who flew over your property without permission was trespassing.
""Would it be possible for a person unknowingly to authorize a law enforcement agency or a criminal to access Amazon Key?" Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, e-mailed Ars. "If a criminal gains access and some harm occurs, who is responsible? And what criminal law would apply? Also, does Amazon have in its disclaimers that law enforcement might ask for access through Amazon Key? Does Amazon plan on being transparent about this?""
"Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in legal issues related to technology, said Amazon’s new service relies on the same kind of trust homeowners commonly extend to services to which they hand over their keys. But he said those agreements often involve in-person interactions, which won’t happen when homeowners allow Amazon to unlock its doors.
“It raises questions about how do you specify and police expectations when the relationship is one mediated almost entirely by technology?” Mr. Calo said."
"“Ikea’s reasons for purchasing TaskRabbit may go well beyond the gains of having that company in-house for purposes of delivery and assembly,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who has written about the sharing economy.
“You never know what these new marriages with tech companies are going to yield,” he added."
"“Congress has subpoena power, of course,” says Al Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, who previously represented several big tech companies in national security cases.
"Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, told me that the electronic communications privacy law did not extend protections to advertisements or posted messages that were readily accessible to the public."
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. entitled “Exploring Augmented Reality.” The hearing will examine the emergence, benefits, and implications of augmented reality technologies. Unlike virtual reality that creates a wholly simulated reality, augmented reality attempts to superimpose images and visual data on the physical world in an intuitive way.
• Mr. Brian Blau, Research Vice President, Gartner
The University of Washington School of Law is delighted to announce a public workshop on the law and policy of artificial intelligence, co-hosted by the White House and UW’s Tech Policy Lab. The event places leading artificial intelligence experts from academia and industry in conversation with government officials interested in developing a wise and effective policy framework for this increasingly important technology. The event is free and open to the public but requires registration. -
CIS Affilate Scholar Ryan Calo wil be part of a panel titled "Understanding the Implications of Open Data".
How can open data promote trust in government without creating a transparent citizenry?
"What will Amazon’s drone highway in the sky look like?
Probably not a drone highway. Amazon unveiled a proposal where low-level air space would be carved out for drones: 200 to 400 feet would be reserved for high-speed transit drones. Below, there would be space for low -speed local drone traffic, and above would be a no-fly buffer zone to keep drones out of manned-vehicle air space, aka flight paths.
Robots have been used in factories around the world for decades, often carrying out dangerous or highly repetitive operations. However the city of Dongguan, China, has become home to the first fully automated factory - where the workforce is made of up entirely of robots. Changying Precision Technology will only employ a small number of human staff who will monitor operations of the machinery, but all processes are completed by robotic equipment.
Is this a sign of things to come? Newsday spoke to Ryan Calo, a professor with the University of Washington Tech Policy Lab.
CIS Affiliate Scholar Ryan Calo on Good Morning America segment "Popularity of Drones Raises Privacy Concerns," many have reported drones with cameras invading their privacy.
Ryan Calo, Assistant Law Professor at the University of Washington and an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, talks about testing Google’s driverless cars.
Listen to the full show at Marketplace Tech.