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.
UPDATE: As told to Jules Polonetsky over at The Future of Privacy Forum, Capital One was engaging in "totally random" rate changes that were not related to browser type. On the other hand, according to the Wall Street Journal, Capital One was at one point using [x+1] data to calibrate what credit card offers to show.
The other day, I suggested that the facts of the Clementi suicide may perfectly illustrate why no actual transfer of information is necessary for someone to suffer a severe subjective privacy harm. (Thanks to TechDirt and PogoWasRight for the write ups.)
Just now I learned about an allegation against Capital One that the company offered someone a different lending rate on the basis of what browser he used (Chrome vs. Firefox). A similar allegation was made against Amazon, which apparently used cookies for a time to calibrate the price of DVDs.
Here you have a clear objective privacy harm: your information (browser type) is being used adversely in a tangible and unexpected way. It matters not at all whether a human being sees the information or whether a company knows "who you are." Neither personally identifying information, nor the revelation of information to a person, is necessary for there to be a privacy harm. Read more » about Browser Snobbery As Objective Privacy Harm (UPDATE)
Ann Bartow once criticized Daniel Solove for not providing enough “dead bodies” in his discussion of privacy. I tend to disagree that such proof is necessary. But privacy has seen a dead body recently—that of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi.
The narrative around Clementi’s tragic suicide continues to shift. The press originally reported that Clementi killed himself after his roommate invited the entire campus to view footage of Clementi having sex with another man. The Associated Press is now reporting that, according to the roommate’s defense attorney, no one but he and his friend ever saw the video.
The question of whether the defendants recorded or broadcast the web cam is highly relevant to whether there has been a privacy violation. Yet it is hardly relevant at all to the question of whether there has been a privacy harm. Read more » about Clementi And The Nature Of Privacy Harm
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
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?
"The question is, said Ryan Calo, assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law and an organizer of an upcoming conference on robot law at Stanford Law School, “Now that this technology exists, what limits should we placing on it, but also, what limits should we be placing on tort laws in order to encourage it?”" Read more » about Should we put robots on trial?
"As it stands, “there’s really not a lot in American privacy law that’s going to be much of a barrier to using drones,” University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo says." Read more » about The Backlash Against Drones
"“Drones have the potential to be transformative technology,” Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law and a former director at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, said by telephone from Seattle. “There will be some people who will never get used to the idea of inscrutable flying robots watching, but I think for many, they’ll come to accept this technology.”" Read more » about Ohio Plans Drones to Hunt Lost Kids as They Bring Jobs
"Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society agreed with Harman, saying: "Any time you have a tool like that in the hands of law enforcement that makes it easier to do surveillance, they will do more of it. This could be a time when people are uncomfortable, and they want to place limits on that technology."" Read more » about Is the LAPD using drones to search for ex-cop Christopher Dorner?
2013 PRIVACY PAPERS FOR POLICY MAKERS
The Future of Privacy Forum
Co-chairs Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf
in conjunction with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee invite you to
“Privacy Papers for Policy Makers”
A discussion of leading privacy research Read more » about Privacy Papers for Policy Makers
CIS Affiliate Scholars Peter Asaro, Ryan Calo and Woodrow Hartzog are listed as participants for We Robot 2014. Robotics is becoming a transformative technology. We Robot 2014 builds on existing scholarship exploring the role of robotics to examine how the increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, and even to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues. If you are on the front lines of robot theory, design, or development, we hope to see you. Read more » about We Robot 2014
The 16th Annual Federalist Society Faculty Conference will be held on January 3-4, 2014 in New York City. The purpose of our Annual Faculty Conferences is to provide an opportunity for those interested in the Society to share ideas and scholarship with each other. Read more » about 16th Annual Federalist Society Faculty Conference
For more information and to register please visit: http://www.siliconflatirons.com/events.php?id=1381
What harms are privacy laws designed to prevent? How are people injured when corporations, governments, or other individuals collect, disclose, or use information about them in ways that defy expectations, prior agreements, formal rules, or settled norms? How has technology changed the nature of privacy harm? Read more » about The New Frontiers of Privacy Harm
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
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