Author Archive | Rachael Jones

Workshop on Police Body-Worn Cameras a Success

Frayda Bluestein from the UNC School of Government leads a discussion during the second plenary session.

Many law enforcement agencies across the country have implemented or are considering body-worn camera (“BWC”) programs as a means to improve policing and promote transparency. Despite the ubiquity of these programs, issues surrounding the use of such cameras continue to arise. While public debate has largely focused on the tension between police accountability and privacy, little work has been done to address the practical needs of law enforcement and the media, particularly the retention, redaction and release of BWC video to the public.

To address this deficiency, the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy convened an invitation-only workshop last weekend. The workshop was a supplement to the North Carolina Law Review’s 2017 symposium “Badgecams as Data and Deterrent: Law Enforcement, the Public, and the Press in the Age of Digital Video.” It was organized to address the practical issues associated with the implementation of police body-worn camera systems, with the goals of ascertaining areas of agreement, identifying issues that would benefit from research, and developing best practices for police departments and the media.

We had a great group of experts in attendance, all with varying perspectives on BWCs. The group consisted of experts on law enforcement, news gathering, privacy, and public access, including seven police officers, two North Carolina Representatives, five attorneys, multiple access and reform advocates, and a dozen academics from across the country.

The workshop was structured to promote open and honest discussion among the attendees and was comprised of two plenary sessions with smaller breakout working groups. In the plenary sessions, the participants identified the major issues surrounding BWC usage based on a lifecycle framework developed by UNC School of Law professor Richard Myers. Attendees then narrowed the list of potential topics to four main areas of interest — creation, access, use, and privacy — that were the subject of the breakout sessions.

Adam Marshall from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press facilitates a breakout session on public access to BWC videos.

Not surprisingly, the breakout sessions did not produce many points of consensus. Nevertheless, we thought the workshop was a success. Indeed, it is rare for privacy advocates, policymakers, and law enforcement sit down together and talk about issues surrounding the use of BWC systems. The workshop allowed participants to hear from those working with BWC on the frontlines and to identify gaps in resources, research, and policy. We hope that the connections made and the conversations that started at the workshop will prove to be beneficial for everyone who came.

We are currently drafting a white paper that will describe in greater the detail the issues that were raised at the workshop. The Center is thankful for all of those who participated, and we look forward to continuing the conversation!

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Police Body-Worn Cameras: Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves and Study the Issues

We are excited for the North Carolina Law Review’s symposium this Friday on “Badge Cams as Data and Deterrent: Law Enforcement, the Public and the Press in the Age of Digital Video.” The symposium will consider the legal and practical issues surrounding the use of police body-worn cameras (BWCs). Many of the nation’s leading experts on this topic will be in attendance, including:

  • Mary Fan, University of Washington
  • David Harris, Pittsburgh Law School
  • Woody Hartzog, Northeastern University
  • Margaret Hu, Washington and Lee University
  • Margot Kaminski, University of Colorado
  • Adam Marshall, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Bryce Newell, University of Kentucky
  • Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst at the ACLU
  • Seth Stoughton, University of South Carolina
  • Peter Swire, Georgia Tech
  • Howard Wassermann, Florida International University
  • Michael White, Arizona State University

The symposium will consist of three panels: Professor Richard Myers will moderate a panel on collection and use of BWC video; Center co-director David Ardia will moderate a panel on privacy and public access; and Center affiliate faculty Mary-Rose Papandrea will moderate a panel on accountability. It will take place on November 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. For more information about the symposium, including information on how to register, please visit our event page.

As a supplement to the symposium, the Center is also organizing a private workshop on November 4 at the UNC School of Law to address the practical issues associated with the implementation of police body-worn camera systems. The workshop will be made up of experts on law enforcement, privacy, public access, and news gathering, with the goals of ascertaining areas of agreement, identifying issues that would benefit from additional academic research, and developing best practices for police departments and the media.

We will have more to say about the workshop next week!

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Center Co-Director’s First Amendment Day Remarks Published in the News and Observer

One of the highlights of First Amendment Day this year was the morning keynote address by Center for Media Law and Policy Co-Director Cathy Packer. Dr. Packer set the tone for the day, reminding us all of the importance of free expression and how vital it is that we continue to protect it. Today, The News & Observer published her remarks as an op-ed. You may find the article at http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article175888201.html.

“Carolina still is a wonderful and exciting place where young people see, hear, read and say things they’ve never before encountered or even imagined. This helps them to create their own views and values.

Of course, because we have a more diverse student body and faculty than ever before, we have more diversity of opinion on campus – and more disagreements. In that way, we’re no different than the rest of the country.

But in other ways we are different from the rest of the nation – or at least we should be. We should celebrate our diversity and learn from it. That’s what we’re here for – to learn. And the free exchange of ideas still is the best way to learn.”

-Dr. Cathy Packer, UNC First Amendment Day 2017

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UNC First Amendment Day is Tuesday!

It’s almost time for what we at the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy think is the best day of the year! On Tuesday, Sept. 26, UNC will celebrate its ninth-annual First Amendment Day! This day of events is one of the highlights of the year at the Center, and we are thrilled to share it with our wonderful campus.

We have an exciting schedule for our day-long event this year.  From public readings of banned books to panels on the state of campus speech, this year’s First Amendment Day is sure to foster meaningful discussion about the state of the First Amendment as well as the University’s unique role in the marketplace of ideas.

This year’s Opening Ceremony will kick-off the day at 9:30 a.m with great speakers, including Center Co-Directors Dr. Cathy Packer and Professor David Ardia. In addition, we will hear from School of Media and Journalism Dean Susan King and UNC student body president Elizabeth Adkins. Next will be a student debate on Ethics and the First Amendment at 11:00 a.m. The debate will cover two issues: offensive speech in comedy performances and limitations on religious freedoms in the U.S. military. Following the debate, the Law School will host a panel on the Future of Free Expression, which will include a discussion of the state’s recent Campus Free Speech Act. Panelists include N. C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea, UNC Law’s Dean of Academic Affairs.

Starting at noon, members of the Coalition of Youth Librarians (COYL) and others from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), including SILS Dean Gary Marchionini, will participate in a reading of books that have been banned from school and public libraries. The readings will continue until 2:30 p.m.

To kick off the afternoon, retired Marine Corps sergeant and investigative journalist Thomas Brennan will speak at the at the Reese News Lab in Carroll Hall at 1:00 p.m., discussing how his work led to Congressional investigations and reform earlier this year. Next, we will tackle the state of campus speech at UNC directly with the panel titled, “Who Can Speak at Carolina?” The panel will include speakers from across campus, including Gabbie Johnson, a recent UNC Law grad and participant in the Silent Sam sit-in; Carolina Review and Daily Tar Heel contributors; and the Center’s own Research Fellow, Rachael Jones. Then, at 3:30 p.m., UNC student journalists from The Daily Tar Heel, Carolina Week, and other student publications will discuss how their work is affected by negative public opinion about the press, social media, and more. 

Leading up to our keynote address, the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble will celebrate the right to make music in Carroll Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. Finally, our keynote speaker, Professor Bill Adair, will discuss the future of the free press. Professor Adair is the creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact. He is the director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy and the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy at Duke University.

To wrap up our free-speech-filled day, we are hosting a First Amendment Trivia night at Linda’s Bar and Grill! The questions start at 8:00 p.m. You can compete to test your knowledge of the First Amendment rights or simply sit back and enjoy the fun. Either way, it will be a fun (and competitive) end to a great day.

We hope to see everyone at our many events this year! For more information on the schedule, events, speakers, and history of First Amendment Day, visit our webpage. Don’t forget to share your photos and thoughts from the day with us by using the hashtag #uncfree! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Center.

See you Tuesday!

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UNC Media Law Doctoral Student Wins Top Paper Award for NCA 2017

We are pleased to announce that UNC  doctoral student Shao Chengyuan has won the top student paper award from the Communication and Law Division of the National Communication Association (NCA) this year. Chengyuan will present her paper at the NCA’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas in November. Congratulations, Shao!

Chengyuan studies media law in the UNC School of Media and Journalism. She joined the program in 2015 after earning a master’s in communication from Beijing Foreign Studies University and a bachelor’s in English from China Agricultural University in Beijing. She has now studies media law issues in China, specifically new media-related legislation and the legal boundaries of online free speech.

Chengyuan’s paper, which was blind-reviewed in the NCA’s paper competition,  is titled “Internet Defamation in China: Criminal Cases Since the 2013 Supreme People’s Court Judicial Interpretation.” Here is the abstract.

“This paper examines the recent development in Chinese defamation law, specifically the establishment of a 2013 judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court that criminalized Internet defamation. This paper uses the language of Chinese law and analyzes eight Internet defamation cases decided after the 2013 judicial interpretation on Internet defamation. The criminal cases analyzed in this paper showed how Chinese public prosecutors have employed the new legal rules in cases deemed as threats to public order and state interests, as well as how Chinese individuals, acting as private prosecutors, have pursued criminal defamation prosecutions against online speakers. This paper takes into consideration the cultural and historical background of Chinese criminal defamation law and argues that, in addressing the lack of free speech protection under the current criminal defamation law, Chinese legislators need to consider raising the standard of fault for public officials and eventually abolishing the “state interest clause” of the criminal defamation statute.”

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