Archive | Privacy

Center to Hire Media Law and Policy Fellow

UNCI’m excited to announce that the Center will be hiring a Media Law and Policy Fellow!  The fellow will play a critical role in supporting a major research initiative at the Center focused on examining various legal and policy issues related to improving government transparency, including the impact government transparency can have on privacy, cybersecurity, equality, and other important interests.

This is a two-year position with a possible renewal for a third year. The salary is $47,476 annually and is accompanied by the standard UNC benefits package and health care insurance for postdoctoral research scholars.

Applicants must hold a J.D. or a Ph.D. We will give preference to applicants with demonstrated interest in the Center’s areas of focus, including journalism, First Amendment, government transparency, and privacy. Applicants should also have experience working with students, organizing events, and managing complex projects. 

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A J.D. and Ph.D.;
  • Knowledge of and interest in the Center’s work;
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and analytical skills, including empirical legal research experience;
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience with program planning, administration, and fundraising; and
  • Experience with website, blog, and social media design and content creation.

Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. The successful candidate should be prepared to start no later than July 1, 2017, with a potential commencement date as early as January 1, 2017.  

For more information on the position as well as instructions on how to apply, please visit the official position posting on the University of North Carolina’s human resources site, available at: https://unc.peopleadmin.com/postings/108165. You can download a PDF version of the job posting here.

Questions about the position should be directed to medialaw[at]unc.edu.

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Dual-Degree Spent Summer at the ACLU and FPF

img_0598This summer, I interned at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC) in San Francisco and the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) in Washington, DC. Both internships provided great opportunities to work on assignments related to my research interest – student privacy – and to be exposed to new areas of law.

The ACLU-NC’s mission is “to protect and advance civil liberties for all Californians” and includes issues related to both consumer privacy and government surveillance. At the ACLU-NC, I worked on a variety of projects related to protecting students’ privacy, including drafting a memo on school video surveillance, creating a handout on the impact of cell phone searches, and providing research for an amicus brief on warrantless electronic searches of young people.

At the ACLU-NC, there were also many opportunities to learn outside of the office. Just a few weeks after I arrived, I took a tour of the San Joaquin Valley with nine other ACLU-NC interns who were from across the nation. The tour is a foundational part of the ACLU-NC’s Law and Policy Internship Program. It helped me gain a better understanding of issues that are relevant to Californians and the ACLU-NC’s work supporting local organizations, which has been extremely effective. Later in the internship program, I interviewed homeless individuals to help challenge the seizure of their property by a local municipality and participated in the ACLU-NC’s campaign to stop Fresno County from allowing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents inside the county jail. It was an incredible two months on the West Coast!

FPF is a non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst for privacy leadership and scholarship, advancing principled data practices in support of emerging technologies. It’s known for its centrist voice in the privacy world. I applied to work there because of the Student Privacy Pledge, which was introduced by FPF and the Software & Information Industry Association in 2014 and endorsed by President Obama in 2015. It’s a big deal because companies that sign show their commitment to protecting student data privacy and it’s legally enforceable under Section 5 of the Consumer Protection Act. I had the opportunity to review ed tech companies’ privacy policies to ensure that they met the requirements of the Pledge before they were listed as a signatory.

My time in Washington, DC at FPF was just as exciting as my time in San Francisco. I quickly learned to keep a blazer in the office because I never knew when there would be an opportunity to attend a meeting on the Hill or venture off on my own to a tech conference. It was also not uncommon for FPF to host meetings with leading figures from industry, academia, law, and advocacy groups in order to advance the privacy dialogue and for the FPF staff to demonstrate how the latest technology companies are addressing privacy concerns by introducing new forms of notice and choice. At FPF, I had an opportunity to highlight the benefits as well as the challenges of these emerging technologies as a co-author of FPF’s comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Association on the Internet of Things.

Altogether, it was an amazing summer! I’ve returned to UNC with new research ideas and memories that will last a lifetime.

Chanda Marlowe

Dual-degree student, earning a master’s in mass communication and a J.D. degree

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Scholarship Winners 2016

unc_medialawThe UNC Center for Media Law and Policy has awarded $6,000 in scholarships to three law students working in unpaid or underpaid internships in the field of media law and policy this summer.

These are the scholarship winners and where they are working:

Varsha Mangal is a legal intern in the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

Chanda Marlowe is spending half of her summer working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in San Francisco and the other half working for the Future of Privacy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Rachel M. Rice is working in the business affairs office of Broadway Video, a global entertainment and media company.  She is located in Los Angeles.

Congratulations to our wonderful students!

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UNC Media Law Students to Present Research in Minneapolis

2016-AEJMC-Conference-LogoFour UNC School of Media and Journalism graduate students will present media law research papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s (AEJMC) national convention in Minneapolis Aug. 4-7.  One of those students – Lindsie Trego – won a prize for writing the third best student paper in the Law and Policy Division.

Congratulations, everyone!

The papers went through a process of blind review, with students and faculty competing in the same category.  These are the authors’ names, paper titles, and abstracts:

Chanda Marlowe, “Student Data in Danger: What Happens When School Districts Rely on the Cloud” (Chanda is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.)

According to Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy’s report “Privacy and Cloud Computing in Public Schools,” 95% of public school districts rely on cloud services for a diverse range of functions. The use of cloud services raises serious privacy concerns. For example, in March of 2014, Google admitted to scanning students’ emails and gathering data that were used to target ads to those students. Under the threat of lawsuits, Google promised to stop; however, in December 2015, Google was accused of collecting and using student data for non-education purposes again, this time in violation of the Student Privacy Pledge that it signed January 2015. Yet, schools continue to contract with private sector corporations to obtain cloud services, leaving parents to wonder what information is collected on their children, how that information is being used, and how, if at all, that information is being protected. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the major privacy problems that school districts face when they rely on cloud services offered by private corporations, to analyze how FERPA and state privacy laws are addressing these problems, and to offer possible solutions that go beyond FERPA and state privacy laws. This topic is important because legislation must strike the right balance between protecting students’ personal information and meeting the technological needs of schools.

Lindsie Trego, “Indirect Censorship of Collegiate Media: Exploring Administrative Removal of Collegiate Media Advisers as First Amendment Retaliation Against Student Journalists” (Lindsie is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.  This is Lindsie’s prize-winning paper.)

Cases of indirect administrative censorship of collegiate media—in which students are indirectly punished for press activity—have recently made news headlines. In many of these cases, college media faculty advisers have been administratively removed from their positions in response to disputes between student editors and administrators. These cases call into question whether student journalists can successfully seek legal redress for indirect acts against their First Amendment rights, including removal of their advisers. Specifically, some have questioned whether removal of college media advisers injures student journalists—a necessary element of proving a First Amendment claim. This paper examines the analyses courts have used in past cases to determine what administrative actions injure students and applies these analyses to determine whether removal of college media advisers constitutes injury to student journalists in the context of First Amendment litigation.

Lindsie Trego & Chris Etheridge, “Power & Print: Content Influences in College Media” (Lindsie is a J.D./M.A. dual degree student in the UNC School of Media and Journalism and the School of Law.  Chris is a Ph.D. student in the School of Media and Journalism.)

Issues of censorship in higher education have lately been common in the news, however it is unclear to what degree college newspapers experience external influences. This study examines censorship in collegiate media through in-depth interviews with student newspaper editors and advisers. Specifically, this study explores what recalled practices by external actors lead editors and advisers to perceive content pressures or lack thereof, as well as how editors and advisers respond to these pressures.  

Ray Whitehouse, “An Examination of Ag-Gag and Data Trespass Statutes” (Ray is a 2016 master’s graduate of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.)

Since 1990, nine states have passed legislation that aims to limit undercover investigations of agricultural operations. These “ag-gag” laws attempt to limit investigations in three ways: by criminalizing recording and reporting on operations, criminalizing deceptive entry into operations, and by mandating that anyone recording abuse report it within a short time period. In 2015, two major events related to ag-gag laws took place. First, a federal judge ruled that Idaho’s ag-gag law was unconstitutional. This case decision, the first examining ag-gag laws, cast doubt on the constitutionality of other state ag-gag laws. Second, Wyoming passed a “data trespass” law that criminalized collecting information on “open land” with the intent to give that information to government agencies. Agricultural activists filed suit, claiming that it was an unconstitutional ag-gag law aimed at stopping citizen activists from reporting Clean Water Act violations by ranchers who lease public land from the state. Lawmakers disagreed, arguing that the bill simply strengthened existing trespass laws. This paper compares Wyoming’s data trespass law with all existing ag-gag laws and Idaho’s recently overturned law to examine its constitutionality. This examination is important because it incorporates recent legal outcomes that before now have not been incorporated into analysis of ag-gag laws. It suggests that because both the Idaho and Wyoming laws are similar in their construction and the legal questions in their respective cases are similar, the Idaho decision is very applicable to Wyoming’s data trespass law and casts serious doubts upon the constitutionality of Wyoming’s data trespass statute.

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FAA Releases Proposed Drone Regulations; North Carolina Proposes Exemption for Government Agencies

drone-regulationsOn Feb. 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released proposed regulations for the use of drones. The proposal requires UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System(s)) pilots to be at least 17 years old, to take an initial aeronautical knowledge test followed by a new test every 24 months, and to pass a TSA screening. The FAA also aims to regulate the speed, timing, and height of drone flights. UAS must avoid spectators, fly no faster than 100 miles per hour and no higher than 500 feet, and fly only during the day. Perhaps most importantly, the drones must remain within sight of the pilots at all times. These rules are for UAS of less than 50 pounds. The proposal discusses the possibility of a more flexible law for UAS of less than 4.4 pounds. The FAA is supposed to finalize the rules by September 2015, but it seems unlikely that the agency will meet the deadline. The FAA proposal is open for comments for 60 days before it moves forward.

Until formal regulations are in place, most commercial entities—including news organizations—may not operate drones. However, private and government entities are anxious to begin using drones and do not want to wait for the FAA to finalize the regulations. The FAA has allowed some news organizations to test drones for newsgathering. The FAA granted CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NBCUniversal permission to “conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small U.A.S. technology to gather the news.” CNN has further permission to test camera-equipped drones.

Meanwhile, state and local jurisdictions have considered and enacted laws that regulate drone use by individuals, commercial entities, and law enforcement. As mentioned in the December blog post, North Carolina’s 2014 budget included new UAS regulations. Some of these regulations outlined licensing guidelines for the commercial operation of UAS within North Carolina. To obtain a license, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and pass a yet-to-be-created “knowledge and skills test.” The law charged the Division of Aviation of the N.C. Department of Transportation with developing and administering this test. Lawmakers also instructed the Division of Aviation to develop a commercial UAS program that included the following: a UAS classification system, a fee structure, technological guidelines, limitations for commercial operation, limitations on data collection, and a variety of other criteria.

The regulations in the 2014 budget also stipulated that no government agency could fly a UAS without taking the test outlined above. However, on Jan. 28, 2015, a bill was filed with the General Assembly that would grant a licensing exception to government agencies. House Bill 4 would allow governmental agencies to begin using UAS before the Division of Aviation releases the UAS “knowledge and skills” test. Under the proposed law, government agencies could obtain and operate UAS if the state chief information officer approved the request. The Division of Aviation must have a test ready for government UAS pilots by May 31, 2015.

Any regulation that the state develops is subject to change when the FAA releases its formal guidelines. Until the FAA publishes the guidelines, it is impossible to know if or how much North Carolina’s UAS laws will change. Currently, if House Bill 4 does pass, governmental agencies still would need permission from the FAA to fly UAS. Before government UAS can take flight in North Carolina, the FAA must grant the agency a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). The COA is a permit that allows government agencies to operate aircraft for a limited amount of time in a particular area for a specific purpose.

For now, North Carolina law and the proposed bill seem in line with public opinion. A recent Reuters’ poll showed that while 42 percent of those surveyed opposed private ownership of UAS, 68 percent approved of law enforcement using UAS to solve crimes, and 62 percent supported using UAS to prevent crime.

Kristen Patrow
Ph.D. Student
UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication

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