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 don’t know that generativity is a theory, strictly speaking. It’s more of a quality. (Specifically, five qualities.) The attendant theory, as I read it, is that technology exhibits these particular, highly desirable qualities as a function of specific incentives. These incentives are themselves susceptible to various forces—including, it turns out, consumer demand and citizen fear.
The law is in a position to influence this dynamic. Thus, for instance, Comcast might have a business incentive to slow down peer-to-peer traffic and only refrain due to FCC policy. Or, as Barbara van Schewick demonstrates inter alia in Internet Architecture and Innovation, a potential investor may lack the incentive to fund a start up if there is a risk that the product will be blocked.
Similarly, online platforms like Facebook or Yahoo! might not facilitate communication to the same degree in the absence of Section 230 immunity for fear that they will be held responsible for the thousand flowers they let bloom. I agree with Eric Goldman’s recent essay in this regard: it is no coincidence that the big Internet players generally hail from these United States. Read more » about Will Robots Be 'Generative'?
Prohibition wasn’t working. President Hoover assembled the Wickersham Commission to investigate why. The Commission concluded that despite an historic enforcement effort—including the police abuses that made the Wickersham Commission famous—the government could not stop everyone from drinking. Many people, especially in certain city neighborhoods, simply would not comply. The Commission did not recommend repeal at this time, but by 1931 it was just around the corner.
Five years later an American doctor working in a chemical plant made a startling discovery. Several workers began complaining that alcohol was making them sick, causing most to stop drinking it entirely—“involuntary abstainers,” as the doctor, E.E. Williams, later put it. It turns out they were in contact with a chemical called disulfiram used in the production of rubber. Disulfiram is well-tolerated and water-soluble. Today, it is marketed as the popular anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse.
Were disulfiram discovered just a few years earlier, would federal law enforcement have dumped it into key parts of the Chicago or Los Angeles water supply to stamp out drinking for good? Probably not. It simply would not have occurred to them. No one was regulating by architecture then. To dramatize this point: when New York City decided twenty years later to end a string of garbage can thefts by bolting the cans to the sidewalk, the decision made the front page of the New York Times. The headline read: “City Bolts Trash Baskets To Walks To End Long Wave Of Thefts.”
In an important but less discussed chapter in The Future of the Internet, Jonathan Zittrain explores our growing taste and capacity for “perfect enforcement."
Readers are likely familiar with the cyberlaw mantra that “code is law.” What’s striking is that since Lawrence Lessig published Code in 1999, relatively little has been written about the dangers of regulation by architecture, particularly outside of the context of intellectual property. Many legal scholars—Neil Katyal, Elizabeth Joh, Edward Cheng—have instead argued for more regulation by architecture on the basis that it is less discriminatory or more effective. Read more » about (Im)Perfect Enforcement
My new paper explores what is unique about privacy harm. How does privacy harm differ from other injury? And what do we gain by defining its boundaries and core properties? You can download the paper here; abstract after the jump. Your thoughts warmly welcome. Read more » about The Boundaries of Privacy Harm
ACM Computers Freedom Privacy is in its 20th year. This year was exciting to me in that robots entered the mix. My panel on the topic featured forecaster and essayist Paul Saffo, EFF's Brad Templeton, philosopher Patrick Lin, and was moderated by Wired's Gary Wolf. You can find a video recording of our panel here. I also spoke to the Dr. Katherine Albrecht Radio Show, which was broadcasting live from the conference. Click here to listen.
UPDATE: Facebook explains the security procedure here. Apparently they only use photos if you have not set up another verification means. Also, I have confirmation that the photo identification is not being done for a secondary purpose.
I recently tried to sign on to Facebook from a coffee shop. I was told that I had to pass a security screening because of the "strange location." Fair enough. The actual test, however, was surprising. It was comprised of a multiple choice exam where I had to identify who was in a given picture.
A couple of things. First, some of the pictures were embarrassing. I doubt the person who uploaded them thought they would be used to screen for improper access. Think about it. Facebook is showing random private photos to people because it suspects they may not be the account holder. The photos must be private because they form the basis of a security screening. Read more » about Facebook's Security Screening
Fewer people are applying to law school. They worry there will be no job waiting for them on the other side. And, indeed, some recent graduates are having a terrible time of it. Often, though, you see an increase in applications during economic slumps as students wait out the bad job market. Something, perhaps the beating law schools have been taking in the court of public opinion of late, is scaring folks off. Read more » about Why Now Is A Good Time To Apply To Law School
Thursday felt like drone day. The Federal Aviation Administration released both its roadmap (PDF) to integrate private drones into domestic airspace and the privacy requirements (PDF) that that will apply to the half-dozen locations selected to be testing areas for this integration. Read more » about The FAA's Drone Privacy Plan: Actually Pretty Sensible
Everyday devices are getting smarter, more connected. Soon your refrigerator will tell you when it’s time to buy milk. But as long as the fridge is making suggestions, why not suggest a particular brand? And did you know you can save 10 cents if you also buy the same brand’s new ice cream?
Consumer Subject Review Boards by Ryan Calo
There are only a handful of reasons to study someone very closely. If you spot a tennis rival filming your practice, you can be reasonably sure that she is studying up on your style of play. Miss too many backhands and guess what you will encounter come match time. But not all careful scrutiny is about taking advantage. Doctors study patients to treat them. Good teachers follow students to see if they are learning. Social scientists study behavior in order to understand and improve the quality of human life. Read more » about Consumer Subject Review Boards
"The tech geeks, though, were almost outnumbered by those of another stripe: philosophers, lawyers, and critics who propose that drones are “a different ontological category,” of “social machines,” as Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, put it." Read more » about Drone Makers Gather to Defend Their Much-Maligned Machines
"“Drones are a much more visceral reminder of the surveillance state than anything the NSA is doing,” says Ryan Calo, a privacy law expert at the University of Washington." Read more » about Technology: Eyes in the sky
"But according to Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, "the digitization of trade substantially alters the ability of firms to influence consumers on a personal level. A specific set of techniques and emerging technologies allow companies to explore and exploit the capacity limitations of each. "" Read more » about Monday morning, the day when women feel ugly
"Of course, any ad worth its salt is targeted (e.g. beauty products in women's magazines, car ads in the auto section), but Calo argues that the sort of targeting enabled by the Internet is categorically different. "Advertisers can only reach people at their most vulnerable if they can reach them practically anytime," he explained to me over email. " Read more » about Is This the Grossest Advertising Strategy of All Time?
"“The main difference is that UAS will drive down the cost of aerial surveillance quite radically, as well as permit smaller and more invasive and longer flying, or even persistent, aerial platforms for surveillance,” Peter Asaro, a drone expert and professor of media studies at the New School, told Ars. "
The Federal Trade Commission will hold a public workshop on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in Washington, DC, to explore consumer privacy and security issues posed by the growing connectivity of devices. The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people is becoming more prevalent and often is referred to as “The Internet of Things.” Read more » about Internet of Things : Privacy and Security in a Connected World
DARC is a multidisciplinary conference about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and drones—with an emphasis on civilian applications.
Attendees will take part in a far-ranging exploration of these technologies and see firsthand the latest advancements in aerial robotics. In addition to looking at the cultural impact, legal challenges, and business potential, we’ll also examine specific applications for drones including: agriculture, policing, wildlife conservation, weather, mapping, logistics, and more. Read more » about Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference
Presented by the Center for Law and the Biosciences
Brain-computer interfaces are on the rise, but they may be vulnerable to hacking that reveals users' private information. Join us as Ryan Calo discusses the privacy risks of this emerging technology.
This event is free and open to the public, and will feature lunch from Net Appetit.
Solutions to many pressing economic and societal challenges lie in better understanding data. New tools for analyzing disparate information sets, called Big Data, have revolutionized our ability to find signals amongst the noise. Big Data techniques hold promise for breakthroughs ranging from better health care, a cleaner environment, safer cities, and more effective marketing. Yet, privacy advocates are concerned that the same advances will upend the power relationships between government, business and individuals, and lead to prosecutorial abuse, racial or other profiling, discrimination, redlining, overcriminalization, and other restricted freedoms. Read more » about Big Data and Privacy: Making Ends Meet
In celebration of National Robotics Week, the Silicon Valley Robot Block Party returns to the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab @ Stanford on Wednesday, April 10 2013, from 1 to 6pm. Read more » about Robot Block Party 2013
On April 10, 2013, Stanford's Center for Law and the Biosciences welcomed CIS Affiliate Scholar Ryan Calo to campus for a discussion on law and emerging technology, with an emphasis on spyware for your brain. Read more » about The Center for Law and the Biosciences presents Ryan Calo
Hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on “The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations” Read more » about The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations
CIS Affiliate Scholar Ryan Calo interviews Neal Stephenson, author of Readme. Topics include privacy, virtual economics and security. Beth Cantrell, Greg Lastowka, and Tadayoshi Kohno also included in panel interview. This event was hosted by the University of Washington Law School. Read more » about Open Book Club: A Conversation With Neal Stephenson