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.
On Thursday, July 31, 2008, the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School sought leave to file a "friend of the court" brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of two of the original designers of the protocols that govern the transfer of information across the Internet, M.I.T. computer scientists Dr. David Clark and Dr. David Reed.
J.B. White, my former professor, has written a powerful essay (pages 98-103) on the evils of reducing the human experience to mere economics. Here is an excerpt:
"One particularly strong feature of the culture of consumption is an immense and relentless campaign, so pervasive and so normalized as to have become invisible, to persuade the public to accept and act on its premises. I refer here to the world of consumer advertising, especially to its apotheosis in television. This kind of advertising persuades people not only to buy this or that item, but more importantly, to accept and live by the whole infantile dream of the consumer economy. It is only in a narrow sense that advertisements compete with each other; in a deeper way they reinforce each other constantly."
Professor White retires this year following a long and distinguished career at Chicago and Michigan, where he held a joint appoint at the law school and English department. The full essay will appear in a book to be published by the University of Michigan Press in early 2009.
It’s official: Wired Magazine has placed worrying about privacy on Gmail in the final column marked “expired.” (What’s “wired”? Worrying about privacy on Google Health.) Yet here I am, continuing to fret over Google’s eons-old practice of scanning incoming and outgoing messages in order to display contextual ads.
In my defense, I don’t think some evil Google Adwords employee is sitting in his brightly lit hexagonical reading through my email and twisting an ironic mustache. I recognize that it’s a dispassionate (for now) computer that scans for keywords and selects contextual ads.
My concern has to do with competition: Gmail puts Google’s advertisers in a position to use the content of their competitors’ emails to compete with them.
Wired's Threat Level is reporting that a court (the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York) has ordered Google "to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users' names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube." (I believe the author means to refer to “user IDs,” not the proper names of the users.)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues on its website that such disclosure would violate the Video Privacy Protection Act. More disturbing still is the threat to a user's right to review material – including material at the core of the First Amendment – anonymously. See, e.g., Julie Cohen, “A Right to Read Anonymously: A Closer Look at 'Copyright Management' in Cyberspace,” 28 Conn. L. Rev. 981 (1996) (available online here).
I would think it clear that Viacom and its co-plaintiff should get, if anything, just that information necessary to determine what percentage of download activity involves copyrighted works.
UPDATE: Reuters reports that Google and Viacom have reached an agreement, wherein Google will anonymize YouTube user data before turning it over.
It's tempting to view this move cynically as a dragged-out response to a long-standing complaint from the privacy community. My understanding, however, is that there has been internal debate at Google over whether to include a privacy link on the homepage for some time. One argument against such a link is that it conveys the sense that a given company respects privacy, irrespective of the actual content of the policy (which, as we know, often goes unread).
I'm not saying Google did this on purpose, but I think that many more people are likely to click on the privacy link, given that it appeared suddenly on the zealously sparse Google homepage. (Unless, of course, they get distracted by the fireworks.)
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.
"“This would hardly be the first time that a new technology with a lot of potential was first adopted by pornography,” Calo said. “You see that with the internet, with VHS, and if you did a little digging, you’d see that … there being this economic motivation, that often times technology do get to play early in pornography.”"
"“It’s certainly the case that birthday and name alone are unlikely by themselves to lead to identity theft, or they shouldn’t,” said Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor specializing in digital issues.
Calo said government has legitimate concerns about releasing records that could cause problems, such as information about children. Privacy is important and deserves protection, he said."
"“Right now these systems are either not doing what they’re supposed to be doing or they’re doing things in ways that allow the companies that are selling them to hide behind trade secrets, so what I would say … is that California should not deploy these systems in any aspect of government until it really feels like it understands what the system does, and that the system is amenable to the kinds of guarantees and processes and procedures that we have made formally to our citizens,” Calo said."
"Microsoft is working on some of these areas through groups such as the Partnership on AI, which includes rivals like Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. Still, the call for more regulation in an emerging area like AI is unusual for technology companies, said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who has read the book.
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. -
Nobody likes to wait in line. So today, Amazon removed that unpleasantness from the neighborhood grocery store. At Amazon Go, you walk in, pick up your groceries and walk out.
There are no checkout lines or scanners and almost no employees, just sensors and cameras. But what is that convenience going to cost you? We talk with Geekwire’s Todd Bishop and University of Washington law professor and privacy expert Ryan Calo.
Listen to the full interview at KUOW 94.9
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.
Simon Jack reports from Seattle on robots at work. From the Boeing factory where robots make planes to a clothes shop where a robot helps him buy a new pair of jeans. Plus Ryan Calo, professor of law at the University of Washington, grapples with the question of who to blame when robots go wrong, and whether there is such a thing as robot rights.
There are a million ways people might use drones in the future, from deliveries and police work to journalism. But in this episode, we’re going to talk about consumer drones — something that you or I might use for ourselves. What does the world look like when everybody with a smart phone also has a drone?