Archive | Privacy

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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A UNC Student’s Summer Experience at the FTC

From Amber Lee, a 3L at UNC School of Law, who interned at the Federal Trade Commission:

This past summer, I interned for the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. The FTC’s mission is to protect consumers by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices to enhance and inform consumer choices and public understanding of the competitive process. Specifically, the Bureau of Consumer Protection works to regulate and prevent unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices by developing rules to maintain a fair marketplace, educating consumers and businesses on their rights and responsibilities, collect consumer complaints and conduct investigations, and sue companies or individuals that break the law. Over the course of the summer, interns had the unique opportunity to research the First Amendment issues of several cases the Bureau was considering pursuing, conduct our own investigations of company’s suspected of false advertising, collect consumer complaints and draft affidavits, and participate in both consumer and business education efforts.

During my time at the Bureau of Consumer Protection, I worked on projects with all five of the Bureau’s litigating divisions, including Advertising Practices, Marketing Practices, Enforcement, Financial Services, and Privacy & Identity Protection. I spent most of my summer researching and drafting memoranda on a wide variety of issues to either assist with pending litigation or assess the likely success or weaknesses of legal arguments for cases the Bureau was considering pursuing in the future. Some of my favorite projects included conducting my own independent investigation of a nutritional supplement company suspected of false advertising, assessing the legal strengths and weaknesses of a potential fraud case, researching emerging trends in the courts’ treatment of CDA immunity, and assisting an attorney with a presentation at a local senior center to educate residents about frauds and scams targeting  senior citizens.

The Bureau of Consumer Protection did a fantastic job of integrating the eight legal interns into their cases and into the agency. The internship coordinator hosted weekly meeting with the interns where we would either learn important legal skills or learn more about a division within the Bureau. We also had a mock deposition exercise with some of the best litigators in the Bureau acting as opposing counsel.  Each intern received an attorney mentor and every litigating division hosted a social gathering throughout the summer to give us a chance to meet all of the attorneys in the Bureau. Also, we were able to tour the Supreme Court and Library of Congress as a group during the summer, attend a Nationals baseball game, and attend a variety of ABA or other legal organization events focused on consumer protection or advertising law issues and interact with attorneys in private practice.

I would strongly recommend students to apply the FTC Consumer Protection internship program, especially if they are interested media law, advertising law, or emerging legal issues involving social media. The people I worked with were amazing and I could truly tell they wanted all of the interns to learn new skills and gain something from their experience at the FTC.

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UNC Media Law Students Graduating and Launching Careers

Two UNC media law students are graduating this spring and summer and moving on to great jobs in their fields. Both of them defended important research projects to earn their degrees.

Brooks Fuller earned a Ph.D. from the UNC School of Media and Journalism in May and will begin work as an assistant professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University this fall.

Chanda Marlowe, a student in the dual-degree program administered by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy,  earned both a master’s degree from the School of Media and Journalism and a J.D. from the UNC School of Law. In August, Chanda will head to Washington, D.C., to begin work at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) as the Christopher Wolf Fellow. Her work at FPF will focus on consumer and commercial privacy issues, including projects involving privacy and non-discrimination.

Brooks’s dissertation used legal analysis and ethnographic field methods to better understand the role context plays in both courts’ and protest participants’ determinations of when speech causes harms during high-conflict political protests. The dissertation is titled “Words, Wounds, and Relationships: A Mixed-Method Study of Free Speech and Harm in High-Conflict Environments.”

According to Brooks, abortion clinic protests are quintessential high-conflict speech environments where the limits of free expression are continuously tested by protestors, making such protests ideal places to study free expression and to test long-held assumptions about how speech causes harm. Over an 18-month period, Brooks spent more than 500 hours observing protests at a North Carolina abortion clinic. Brooks also conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates, police, and abortion clinic volunteers, and analyzed the social media and YouTube posts of various individual advocates and organizations.

Brooks’s key finding was that the harms that stem from speech have little to do with protest language. Instead, harms depend largely on the social relationships between the speaker and the listener and whether the speakers adhere to social norms that have developed in their particular protest environment. Brooks found that the world of abortion clinic protesting is carefully choreographed and routine. Through day-to-day routines, protestors develop social bonds with their adversaries that lessen the sting of the harsh rhetoric that characterizes abortion clinic protests. Brooks suggested that these findings reinforce the importance of understanding social relationships in order to better understand speech-related harms.

Brooks’s dissertation also points toward opportunities to advance the understanding of the First Amendment in American society through interdisciplinary scholarship. It is perhaps the first project of its kind to address traditional doctrinal First Amendment questions through a blend of legal and sociological research methods.

Chanda successfully defended a thesis that provides a full landscape of the legal issues surrounding the video surveillance of students in public schools and on public school buses. Her thesis explicated legislation and court decisions regarding the rights of students to challenge school video surveillance and the rights of others to access school surveillance videos once they have been recorded.  It concluded with a set of best practices to help schools strike the proper balance between protecting students’ privacy and keeping schools safe.

Congratulations, Tar Heel graduates!

 

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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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