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
"While that kind of pervasive surveillance may be useful for companies, it could also make consumers more vulnerable to pitches for products that are not necessarily good for them, said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law who studies consumer privacy. " Read more » about Acxiom Lets Consumers See Data It Collects
"Ryan Calo, professor at the University of Washington, has written on the future of digital marketing in the Stanford Law Review Online and joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss the different ways data can be used against you." Read more » about How online advertisers could use your data against you
""I think they're really aware of themselves as being a place for discussion, news and sometimes for dissent," said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, referring to Twitter." Read more » about Twitter's top legal executive steps down in surprise move
"For Calo, whose work looks at online tracking for ad sales, the questions come down to consumer protection: How can we ensure that low-information consumers aren't being manipulated into deals and other purchases that are against their own interests?" Read more » about Do Helmet Cams Invade Privacy?
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
It is not hard to imagine why robots raise privacy concerns. Practically by definition, robots are equipped with the ability to sense, process, and record the world around them. Robots can go places humans cannot go, see things humans cannot see. Robots are, first and foremost, a human instrument. And after industrial manufacturing, the principal use to which we’ve put that instrument has been surveillance. This talk explores the various ways that robots implicate privacy and why, absent conscientious legal and design interventions, we may never realize the potential of this transformative technology. Read more » about Robots, Privacy & Society- Cal Poly
Liar Liar Pants on Fire! Examining the Constitutionality of Enhanced Robo-Interrogation (Updated), Kristen Thomasen
2012 Stanford Law Review Symposium
Co-Hosted by the Center for Internet and Society
February 2, 2012
Welcome & Drones Discussion
- Stephen Morris, MLB Company
- Ryan Calo, Stanford Law School, Center for Internet and Society
- Catherine Crump, American Civil Liberties Union Read more » about Drones - Privacy Paradox: Privacy and Its Conflicting Values (Video)