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.
For those who don't know it, Surprisingly Free has hosted many excellent guests, so I recommend exploring the website. If you're interested in law and technology podcasts, I also highly recommend CIS's own Hearsay Culture.
Privacy settings and other technological controls used to protect privacy have been justifiably criticized a bit lately. Danielle Citron recently blogged at Concurring Opinions about an important new study conducted by Columbia’s Michelle Madejski, Maritza Johnson and Steve Bellovin that found that Facebook’s default privacy settings fail to capture real-world expectations. The United Kingdom Government has recently indicated that browser settings alone cannot be used by Web users to give consent to being tracked online under a new EU law. The Government's rationale for this decision was that these browser settings were not flexible enough to reflect a user's true privacy preferences. The general consensus seems to be that most privacy settings simply aren't that good at protecting the actual information we consider private in a given context. I think some skepticism regarding privacy controls is warranted, particularly in light of the current technology. However, I'd like to show some support for privacy controls, or, rather, the promise of privacy controls. My hope is that that courts and lawmakers do not completely sour on recognizing privacy controls as a legitimate way to protect an Internet user's privacy.
In the past few weeks a few potential employers and schools were reported to have asked for access to the Facebook profile of an applicant or student. These reports are starting to feel like a trend. I think these requests are problematic not just for the Facebook user, but also the employer or administrator asking for access. In short, anyone asking for access to Facebook profiles and/or login credentials is asking users to betray the trust of their network and subjecting all parties involved to the potential deactivation of their Facebook account.
Website scraping, which is the bulk extraction of website information by software, is becoming an increasingly visible activity. The Lovely-Faces controversy shows how scraped information can disrupt a sense of privacy when re-published in a different context. The Lovely-Faces website, deemed “a social experiment” by its creators, re-contextualizes names, locations, and photos scraped from publicly accessible Facebook pages in a mock dating website.
Co-authored with Daniel Solove.
"Woodrow Hartzog, professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, agreed, noting the opinion could impact future surveillance and data rules in the U.S.
“Many have argued for years that privacy harms extend far beyond things like identity theft and extreme mental anguish,” Hartzog added. “This case recognizes that people are harmed when companies interfere with people’s ability to maintain their biometric privacy.”"
"Others note that California’s rules aren't radical departures from how the internet already works. "I think that California, like Brussels, certainly might set the bar for compliance on several important tech issues," says Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University. "But this might not lead to balkanization in the way we’re seeing in China and Russia."
"While more than half of Facebook users of all ages have changed their privacy settings this year, according to the Pew Research Center, I was curious why there hasn’t been a mass exodus from the network. Do the perceived benefits of social networking trump the benefits of preserving our personal data from corporate interests?
"As we become an increasingly digitally connected world, the loss of privacy and security are almost inevitable. But if we don’t adopt stronger data security laws, said Northeastern professor Woodrow Hartzog, we might be left with a digital landscape that could be marred by chaos and deregulation.
"Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University, said the documents could raise concerns about antitrust and how Facebook uses its data. “I think this may end up only confirming lots of people’s suspicions about Facebook’s incentive to build its platform in a way that favors itself over users,” he said."
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.
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"On the other hand: even algorithms can make mistakes. You will eventually written by humans. And just legal texts can be difficult in a formalized language to translate. They are, says Woodraw Hartzog, just not made for it to be automated. And they are not made to be enforced to one hundred percent."