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
Written by Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger.
Big data generates big myths. To help society set realistic expectations, the right kind of skepticism is needed. Read more » about What You Don't Say About Data Can Still Hurt You
Excited teenagers – in other words normal teenagers – have never been famous for consistently wise decisions, nor should they be. Trial and error is a critical part of growing up.
But the emergence and widespread uptake of social media has further complicated the ability of teenagers to put past issues behind them. What used to remain only in fading memories increasingly lingers in code on computer servers in the cloud. Read more » about A Stronger ‘Online Eraser' Law Would be a Mistake
When Facebook Inc. recently lifted its restriction on public posts by teenagers, some privacy scholars applauded the move as a win for parents -- offering them a chance to teach their children about digital accountability. They may be overstating the case, however. If information and communication technologies aren’t designed to help users -- especially younger ones -- guard their information, appeals to good judgment and discipline won’t go very far. Read more » about Why Is Facebook Putting Teens at Risk?
Big Data in Small Hands by Woodrow Hartzog & Evan Selinger
“Big data” can be defined as a problem-solving philosophy that leverages massive datasets and algorithmic analysis to extract “hidden information and surprising correlations.” Not only does big data pose a threat to traditional notions of privacy, but it also compromises socially shared information. This point remains underappreciated because our so-called public disclosures are not nearly as public as courts and policymakers have argued—at least, not yet. That is subject to change once big data becomes user friendly. Read more » about Big Data in Small Hands
Design-based solutions to confront technological privacy threats are becoming popular with regulators. However, these promising solutions have left the full potential of design untapped. With respect to online communication technologies, design-based solutions for privacy remain incomplete because they have yet to successfully address the trickiest aspect of the Internet — social interaction. This Article posits that privacy-protection strategies such as “Privacy by Design” face unique challenges with regard to social software and social technology due to their interactional nature. Read more » about Obscurity by Design
It looks like Boston’s Finest is going to be watched by its own. As the result of new contract negotiations between the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department, police cruisers will potentially be outfitted with GPS devices designed to monitor how cop cars move around the city. The contract includes some additional changes and still needs to be approved by the Boston City Council. Read more » about Boston policemen complain about new plan to watch their movements
Even as the Federal Trade Commission seems poised to extend its power to regulate privacy and data security under Section 5 of the FTC Act, a ruling in a pending federal court case could curtail that power, privacy scholars and attorneys have told Bloomberg BNA. Read more » about FTC Power to Patrol Unfairness in Privacy, Data Security Challenged, But Enforcement Push Likely to Continue
"“It’s certainly striking to hear the companies’ use of fiery rhetoric to criticize mass collection of bulk data since they themselves are engaging in mass collection of bulk data,” said Woodrow Hartzog, who teaches privacy law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala." Read more » about The Information-Gathering Paradox
"But many advertisers aren't completely sold on these endorsement ads — and with good reason, says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala." Read more » about Like it? Social ads turn users into unwitting endorsers
"Al Jazeera: We're at a conference where the focus seems to be on the whiz-bangery of this technology. What's being lost in all this when it comes to privacy issues?
Woodrow Hartzog: There's a fair amount of hand-wringing over drones and privacy, but I think in many instances it's often dismissed because drones fly in public and they fly in public spaces and the law, as it's traditionally been conceived, does not protect privacy when you're walking out in the middle of the street. But I don't think that's entirely true." Read more » about Q&A: Privacy implications for aerial drones
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
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
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