Woodrow Hartzog is an Assistant Professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. His research focuses on privacy, human-computer interaction, online communication, and electronic agreements. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an LL.M. in intellectual property from the George Washington University Law School, and a J.D. from Samford University. He previously worked as an attorney in private practice and as a trademark attorney for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He also served as a clerk for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
I have just uploaded a new essay about online privacy to SSRN that will appear in Volume 46 of the Georgia Law Review. The essay, titled "Chain-Link Confidentiality," asserts that personal information that is shared online can be better protected if we require our confidants to make sure that their confidants are watching out for us. This strategy could help us retain control over our personal information as it moves downstream. Your comments are warmly welcome. Read more » about Chain-Link Confidentiality
Last week, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Jones, in which the Justices held that the government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constituted a Fourth Amendment search. The decision was surprisingly unanimous on this point, though concurring opinions by Justices Sotomayor and Alito potentially amplify the significance of the opinion by proposing alternate approaches to the larger problem of ubiquitous surveillance technologies and privacy in public. Given the majority opinion's narrow focus on the attachment of the device to the car, the larger issue of privacy in public remains unsettled.
Others have done an exemplary job of commenting on the decision. The dominant themes arising from the decision and analysis of the decision seem to be the (re?)injection of the concept of trespass into Fourth Amendment doctrine, signs of potential withering of the third party doctrine, and recognition that Fourth Amendment and privacy doctrine will soon enough be useless if they do not adequately protect against ever-evolving surveillance methods and technologies.
I'd like to focus on an aspect of the decision that has not shown up much in the analysis of the case, likely because it was never explicitly mentioned in the text. Although the word obscurity does not appear anywhere in United States v. Jones, I think the decision, particularly Justice Sotomayor's concurring opinion, supports the idea that the obscurity of our personal information is worth protecting. Read more » about Three Cheers for Obscurity, an Unspoken Beneficiary of United States v. Jones
The Michigan Law Review recently published “The Fight to Frame Privacy,” Woodrow Hartzog's book review of Daniel Solove’s “Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security.”
Read the full review here: http://www.michiganlawreview.org/articles/the-fight-to-frame-privacy Read more » about The Fight to Frame Privacy
The concept of implied confidentiality has deep legal roots, but it has been largely ignored by the law in online-related disputes. A closer look reveals that implied confidentiality has not been developed enough to be consistently applied in environments that often lack obvious physical or contextual cues of confidence, such as the Internet. This absence is significant because implied confidentiality could be one of the missing pieces that help users, courts, and lawmakers meaningfully address the vexing privacy problems inherent in the use of the social web. Read more » about The Life, Death, and Revival of Implied Confidentiality
Disclosing personal information online often feels like losing control over one’s data forever; but this loss is not inevitable. This essay proposes a “chain-link confidentiality” approach to protecting online privacy. One of the most difficult challenges to guarding privacy in the digital age is the protection of information once it is exposed to other people. A chain-link confidentiality regime would contractually link the disclosure of personal information to obligations to protect that information as the information moves downstream. Read more » about Chain-Link Confidentiality
On the Internet, obscure information has a minimal risk of being discovered or understood by unintended recipients. Empirical research demonstrates that Internet users rely on obscurity perhaps more than anything else to protect their privacy. Yet, online obscurity has been largely ignored by courts and lawmakers. In this article, we argue that obscurity is a critical component of online privacy, but it has not been embraced by courts and lawmakers because it has never been adequately defined or conceptualized. Read more » about The Case for Online Obscurity
"Similarly compelling questions came from Bryant Walker Smith, a Stanford fellow focused on law and policy related to driverless cars like the one being developed by Google. He presented a paper that explored whether selling such products place "longer and higher" legal duties onto the company." Read more » about Rise of robots means rethinking our laws
"“If anyone thinks it is a simple thing to do, to take a simple law [and convert it to machine-readable code], it is significantly more complicated than one thought,” Woodrow Hartzog, a law professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University and one of the paper's co-authors, told Ars." Read more » about If you hate red-light cameras, you’ll really hate speeding ticket robots
"“His work has gone a long way in trying to help us figure out how irrational we are in privacy related decisions,” says Woodrow Hartzog, an assistant professor of law who studies digital privacy at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. " Read more » about Letting Down Our Guard With Web Privacy
"In many instances, this type of attack could still be executed, said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, who researches digital security and social media." Read more » about Leaked Photos of Johansson Expose Cloud's Vulnerabilities to Social Engineering
""Google Glass is possibly the most significant technological threat to 'privacy in public' I've seen," Woodrow Hartzog, an affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, told Ars." Read more » about “Stop the Cyborgs” launches public campaign against Google Glass
CIS Affiliate Scholar David Levine interviews Prof. Woodrow Hartzog of Cumberland School of Law, Samford University and Fred Stutzman of UNC on privacy in social media. Read more » about Prof. Woodrow Hartzog and Fred Stutzman - Hearsay Culture - Show #170 - KZSU-FM