Professor Hartzog is a Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University, where he teaches privacy and data protection law, policy, and ethics. He holds a joint appointment with the School of Law and the College of Computer and Information Science. His recent work focuses on the complex problems that arise when personal information is collected by powerful new technologies, stored, and disclosed online.
Professor Hartzog’s work has been published in numerous scholarly publications such as the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, and Michigan Law Review and popular national publications such as The Guardian, Wired, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, New Scientist, Slate, The Atlantic, and The Nation. His book, Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies, is under contract with Harvard University Press. He has testified twice before Congress on data protection issues.
Professor Hartzog has served as a Visiting Professor at Notre Dame Law School and the University of Maine School of Law. 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. He holds a PhD in mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an LLM in intellectual property from the George Washington University Law School, and a JD from Samford University.
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.
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.
Amazon, the company synonymous with online shopping, is supplying facial recognition technology to government and law enforcement agencies over its web services platform. Branded Rekognition, the technology is every bit as dystopian as it sounds.
Imagine a technology that is potently, uniquely dangerous — something so inherently toxic that it deserves to be completely rejected, banned, and stigmatized. Something so pernicious that regulation cannot adequately protect citizens from its effects. That technology is already here. It is facial recognition technology, and its dangers are so great that it must be rejected entirely.
Imagine a technology that is potently, uniquely dangerous — something so inherently toxic that it deserves to be completely rejected, banned, and stigmatized. Something so pernicious that regulation cannot adequately protect citizens from its effects.
That technology is already here. It is facial recognition technology, and its dangers are so great that it must be rejected entirely.
""They created a platform where sharing was mindlessly easy and interacting with each other required almost no forethought at all," said Woodrow Hartzog, a law and computer science professor at Northeastern University. "As a result, there was massive sharing, including gushing of personal information that put lots of people at risk.""
To make sense of this world, and to try to sift through the new emerging definitions of privacy, I turned to Woodrow Hartzog. In recent years, Hartzog has emerged as an important thinker on matters of design, privacy, and power relationships between users and tech companies. A professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, Hartzog has written for the mainstream press about these issues, sometimes in collaboration with his colleague Daniel Solove.
"“Facial recognition is probably the most menacing, dangerous surveillance technology ever invented,” Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, told me in an email. “We should all be extremely skeptical of having it deployed in any wearable technology, particularly in contexts [where] the surveilled are so vulnerable, such as in many contexts involving law enforcement.”"
"Perhaps, or perhaps not, said Woodrow Hartzog, who teaches law and computer science at Northeastern University. "The idea that this is simply neutral technology that can be used for good or evil and Amazon shouldn't be responsible, I think is purely wrong," he said.
"It's not unreasonable to say if you build a product that is capable of harm than you should be responsible for the design choices you make for enabling the harm," he said, "and when you release it out into the world, you're doing so in a safe and sustainable way.""
"But Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said it's not unusual to see a tech company without a CPO.
"While there have been some very public mistakes, like many tech companies, [Uber] seems to have learned, albeit the hard way, to invest in a serious privacy and security infrastructure," Gidari said. "It is important for the CPO to be in the "C" suite, and Uber has made a serious hire with Ruby Zefo and Simon Hania.""
Part of the Cyber Insecurity series.
Probe the difficult questions that we will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Explore the nuances of our future and prepare for the complex problems that will rise as our lives become more A.I. dependent.
Adults 18+ Only.
This program is free thanks to the generosity of the Lowell Institute.
Ranging across consumer protection, data aggregation, digital networks, high-tech devices and surveillance, this panel brings together top privacy and surveillance experts to discuss how the Trump administration has and will continue to shape our privacy in these and other areas.
- ELIZABETH JOH Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
- AHMED GHAPPOUR Associate Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
- ANDREA MATWYSHYN Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
The Tech/Law Colloquium speaker for September 19, 2017 will be Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, where he teaches privacy and data protection law, policy, and ethics. His recent work focuses on the complex problems that arise when personal information is collected by powerful new technologies, stored, and disclosed online.
Talk: Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies
Robots are starting to look suspiciously familiar. Increasingly sophisticated robots designed to resemble us are striking up more and more symbiotic relationships with humans, at home as our companions and at our workplaces as colleagues.
Human-robot interactions will continue to evolve as robotic technology transforms the way we see our creations and the way they react to us. But as machines cease acting like machines and become more integrated into our lives, how will we feel about them? And, dare we ask, how will they feel about us?
Design is one of the most important but overlooked factors that determines people’s privacy. Social media apps, surveillance technologies, and the Internet of Things are all built in ways that make it hard to guard personal information. And the law says this is okay because it is up to users to protect themselves ― even when the odds are deliberately stacked against them.
Our modern privacy frameworks, with their emphasis on gaining informed consent from consumers in order to use their data, are broken models. That's according to Woodrow Hartzog, a law professor at Northeastern University in Boston. In this episode of The Privacy Advisor Podcast, Hartzog discusses the ways that, given such models, technologies are designed at the engineering level to undermine user privacy.
Recently 50 million Facebook users had their personal information extracted and used for political and commercial purposes. In the wake of this scandal, we’ve all become much more aware of how our use of social media clashes with our desire for privacy. Are technical fixes and awareness enough, or is it time for Facebook and other online services to be regulated? Our guest Woodrow Hartzog is a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University and discusses the battle and future of our personal information.
Woodrow Hartzog, a professor at Northeastern University Law School, discusses Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s agreement to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the company’s data usage policies. He speaks with Bloomberg’s June Grasso.