Policymakers often discuss privacy as something that is lacking. But what if there is too much privacy? Michele Gilman joined Joe Miller to explain.
Michele Gilman (@profmgilman) is the Venable Professor of Law; Director, Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic; and Co-Director, Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is also a faculty fellow at Data & Society in New York, where she focuses on the intersection of data privacy law with the concerns of low-income communities.
Before joining the faculty, Professor Gilman was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice; an associate at Arnold and Porter in Washington, D.C.; a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the District of Maryland; and an editor of the Michigan Law Review. Professor Gilman's scholarship focuses on issues relating to poverty, privacy, economic inequality, and feminist legal theory and her articles have been published in the California Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review and the Washington University Law Review, among others. She was a visiting associate professor at the William and Mary School of Law during the 2005-06 academic year and a professor in the University of Aberdeen summer program in summer 2009. In 2009, she received the Outstanding Teaching by a Full-Time Faculty Member Award.
Professor Gilman directs the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic, in which student attorneys represent individuals and community groups in a wide array of civil litigation and law reform projects. She is involved in numerous groups working on behalf of low-income Marylanders. She is a member of the Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities of the ACLU of Maryland and the Judicial Selection Committee of the Women's Law Center. She is the past president of the board of the Public Justice Center, where she served from 2004-2014, as well as a past member of the Maryland Bar's Section Council on Delivery of Legal Services. She received the 2010 University System of Maryland Board of Regents' Award for Public Service. Professor Gilman is the former co-chair and a member of the Scholarship Committee of the AALS Clinical Legal Education Section, and a former editor of the Clinical Law Review Review and the Journal of Legal Education. She is also a co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism, which works to apply the insights of feminist legal theory to legal practice and policy. She is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars.
Professor Gilman will be a faculty fellow at Data & Society in New York during the 2019-2020 academic year. She will be focusing on the intersection of data privacy law with the concerns of low-income communities.
The Surveillance Gap: The Harms of Extreme Privacy and Data Marginalization by Michele Gilman (New York University Review of Law & Social Change, 2019).
Uber was victorious last week in a sexual assault lawsuit brought against it by a woman who says she was raped near a San Francisco shopping mall last year, by a suspended Uber driver who still had the Uber decal on his window. In her pleadings before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, the victim claimed that the suspended driver was acting within the scope of his employment and that she legitimately thought it would be a safe ride. But the court disagreed. Judge Corley did find, however, that the victim had made out a plausible claim for negligence and permitted her to refile for punitive damages for negligence stemming from Uber’s apparent failure to ensure the driver removed the decal from his window. The driver still faces a criminal trial which could send him away for life.
Separately, Uber has begun videotaping rides. But the effort has faced resistance from privacy advocates.
West Virginia prisoners will have to pay $.03 per minute to access e-books via Project Gutenberg, which otherwise offers the public free access to over 60,000 books. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation (WVDCR) entered into a deal with Global Tel Link (GTL) to provide tablets to 10 prisons in West Virginia which will also allow inmates to watch videos and send written messages and photos. But the rates for those services, ranging between $.25 and $.50 per minute, are still very high relative to the $.04 per hour to $.58 per hour prisoners can earn in wages. The prisons will lift a current restriction on accessing books in print. But advocates who oppose the exploitative $.03 per minute fee for e-books note that the use of books in print comes with many more restrictions.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine is suing DoorDash for pocketing tips the company solicits from customers. The Office of the Attorney General has been investigating the company since March, and now says that evidence shows that DoorDash routinely kept the tips to reduce the amount they had to pay drivers in wages.
Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, a Democrat, has introduced new bipartisan legislation to improve law enforcement’s access to digital evidence from tech companies. The bill would create a new Office of Digital Law Enforcement within the Department of Justice to train law enforcement on how to handle digital evidence. It would also create a Center for Excellence for Digital Forensics to centralize tech expertise and legal assistance within the same building. The bill would also set up infrastructure for the DOJ to issue digital evidence program grants, as well as a Technology Policy Advisory Board to advise the Attorney General on digital evidence best practices.
A Brooklyn landlord has cancelled plans to install facial recognition technology after resistance from tenants and advocacy groups. Robert Nelson, President of Nelson Management Group, owns the 700-unit Atlantic Plaza Towers building in Brownsville where most tenants are black. Tenants and their supporters are now pushing for statewide legislation that would outlaw facial recognition technology throughout the Empire State.
Democratic lawmakers who are members of the House Tech Accountability Caucus, the Tri-Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus’ Diversity Task force called out Oracle for its lack of diversity in a letter to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The letter notes that Oracle has 0% board diversity, saying it is unacceptable given Oracle’s attempts to earn business from firms that serve people of color.
Tyler McIntyre (@tmcpro) is the founder & CTO of Novo, a small business challenger bank in the United States that is building technology to help small and medium-sized businesses better understand where and how they are spending their money. Tyler has a strong technology background and understanding of business through his previous startups. He has also consulted for Fortune 500 companies. Tyler has been working with building artificially intelligent assistants since 2011. He has a Bachelors in Management from the University of Miami and a Certificate in Business Management from the University of Pennsylvania. His company is based in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.
Microsoft is stepping up its fight to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on behalf of its 66 DACA employees, referred to as “Dreamers”. The Obama-era program grants relief to the children of undocumented migrants who have spent their entire childhood in the United States. Applicants to the program do need to meet several requirements in order to qualify for DACA. For example, they can’t have any felony convictions or more than 3 misdemeanors. They also have to have earned a high school diploma or GED. If they qualify, Dreamers get renewable, 2-year deferrals from being deported and can ultimately become eligible to obtain a work permit. President Trump has said he would end the program. So many, including Microsoft, have been pushing Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, since the program was established under the Obama administration through an executive memo. The courts, including the Supreme Court which prevented its expansion, have held that the program is likely unconstitutional without action from Congress.
Big tech companies are investing billions to address California’s public housing shortage. It started with Apple announcing a $2.5 billion investment, followed by pledges from Google and Facebook who pledged to contribute $1 billion apiece. But local California officials have said that the investment will not be enough to address decades of rapid employment growth in the tech sector. This growth has pushed some 28,000 people out of their homes, according to the Hill. Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders also criticized the program, calling for tax hikes, saying that its disingenuous for tech company tax evaders, who he says created the problem, to attempt to distract from it with investments that won’t be enough.
Social media companies reconsider microtargeting in political ads
Facebook, Google and Twitter are reconsidering allowing politicians to microtarget their ads based on user location and other factors. Twitter, for one, has banned all political advertising. Google is reportedly reconsidering its political ad policy with an announcement expected this week. These developments come amid criticism from Mozilla as well as an International Committee composed of lawmakers from Australia, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Singapore, the UK and the United States, who have objected to microtargeting practices across social media.
Facebook and YouTube have said that they will remove content revealing the name of the potential whistleblower who disclosed President Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to require Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for aid. The whistleblower’s complaint is at the heart of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into the president.=
Twitter however, will continue to allow users to post the name of the whistleblower, but will remove personally identifiable information such as his or her phone number and address.
Avaaz, a global advocacy organization that tracks misinformation online, issued a study of the most viral fake political news stories in 2019. It found the stories generated nearly 160 million views, compared to 140 million views of fake news stories posted during the 2016 election. Some 62 percent of the fake stories were anti-Democrat.
The New York Times reports that staffers of the New York City Police Department took kickbacks from health clinics, doctors, lawyers, and a fraud insurance ring in Queens, in exchange for data from car accident victims. Prosecutors have charged 27 individuals for their alleged involvement. Fifty-one year-old Anthony Rose allegedly directed the scheme in which 911 call operators sent car accident victims in low-income areas in New York City to fake call centers that directed them to partnering accident victim service providers. In exchange, the call centers allegedly paid kickbacks to Rose, a portion of which he then distributed to co-conspirators who worked for the NYPD.
The American Prospect reports that it has tied Kyrsten Sinema, the only Democrat in the Senate who opposes the pro-net neutrality Save the Internet Act, to a Super PAC that’s funded by telecom lobbyists. The report states that Sinema directed contributions to the Super PAC that ultimately funded her own campaign.
Finally, beginning this week, Instagram is expected to hide the number of ‘likes’ users generate from their posts. Users will reportedly continue to be able to see likes on their own posts, but not the likes of others’. But the new policy will only affect some of Instagram’s users. The Hill reports that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are also considering hiding likes.
The Common Law History of Section 230 with Brent Skorup (Ep. 208)
Brent Skorup (@bskorup) is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research areas include transportation technology, telecommunications, aviation, and wireless policy.
He serves on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and on the Texas DOT’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Task Force. He is also a member of the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project.
The White House, the FCC, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and a dissenting opinion at the Illinois Supreme Court have cited his research. In addition to economics and law journal publication, he has authored pieces for National Affairs, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wired, Air Traffic Management magazine, Regulation magazine, and elsewhere. He’s appeared as a TV and radio interview guest for news outlets like C-SPAN, NPR, CBS News, ABC News, and CNBC Asia.
Brent has a BA in economics from Wheaton College and a law degree from the George Mason University School of Law, where he was articles editor for the Civil Rights Law Journal. He was a legal clerk at the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and at the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Before joining Mercatus, he was the Director of Research at the Information Economy Project, a law and economics university research center.
The Erosion of Publisher Liability in American Law by Brent Skorup and Jennifer Huddleston (Mercatus Center, 2019)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to meet with civil rights leaders this week after his company has maintained its policy to leave up political ads containing false statements by politicians. The company has applied the policy unevenly, first allowing Donald Trump to maliciously post an ad with false information about Joe Biden; then leaving up an Elizabeth Warren ad containing false information designed to illustrate the absurdity of Facebook’s ad policy. During a hearing, Zuckerberg also admitted to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that if she were to place a false political ad, that the company would probably leave it up.
But Facebook is inexplicably removing false ads placed by Political Action Committees. One notable example is an ad placed the Really Online Lefty League – ROLL – a Political Action Committee co-founded by Adriel Hampton – which falsely claimed that Lindsey Graham supports the New Green Deal. Hampton, an experienced marketing and political strategist, responded by filing to run for governor of California. Then gubernatorial candidate Hampton posted a false political ad and Facebook took it down, saying his campaign wasn’t legit—that it was just a ploy to place a false ad to see what Facebook would do. Even though Hampton says he fully expects to win the governorship, Facebook hasn’t reinstated the ad.
Top officials from the NAACP, National Urban League, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights are scheduled to meet with Zuckerberg this week to express their concerns with Facebook’s political ad policy, which the company now says has been extended to the UK.
A plaintiff in San Francisco filed a potential class action federal lawsuit last week claiming that Facebook discriminates against users based on age and gender in determining who can see financial services ads. The lawsuit comes 7-months after Facebook agreed to tailor its platform to avoid discrimination on the basis of age, gender and zip code for job, credit, and housing ads.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has launched a national security investigation into Tik Tok, which is owned by the Chinese firm Bytedance. A bipartisan cohort of lawmakers including Democrat Chuck Schumer, Republican Marco Rubio, and Tennessee Democratic Congressman Bart Gordon have all expressed concern about how the Chinese government uses TikTok’s data. TikTok’s growth has been outpacing the growth of incumbent social media companies in the U.S.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is exiled in Russia for blowing the lid off the National Security Agency’s mass data collection practices six years ago, told ReCode’s Kara Swisher last week that Facebook is as untrustworthy as the NSA when it comes to privacy. But he didn’t limit his remarks to Facebook. He said that all tech companies are looking to exploit our personal data no matter the consequences. He also said that, on the surface, users may appear not to be concerned about how big tech companies handle their data but that, in reality, users are very concerned but feel powerless.
Five people were shot and killed at an Airbnb rental Northern California during a Halloween party on Thursday. The rental listing on Airbnb prohibited parties and the renter claimed it was renting the space for family members who were suffering from smoke inhalation from the fires in the Los Angeles area. A witness reported to Buzzfeed that the shooting occurred with apparently no provocation. Airbnb has banned the renter from the platform.
Chinese officials announced last week that it would roll out 5G to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou 2 months ahead of schedule. The country also announced plans to roll out 5G to over 50 cities by the end of this year. While U.S. telecom companies have begun their 5G roll-out, it’s largely been rolled out on higher frequency bands than the 5G service that’s being rolled out in China. The lower frequency bands that China’s using cover a larger surface area, while the higher frequency bands U.S. companies are using are more powerful but cover less ground.
Senator Corey Booker has introduced a bill to ban facial recognition in public housing. The Senator cites the disproportionate impact that facial recognition technology threatens to have on the nation’s most vulnerable communities. The No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act targets public housing that receives funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Apple announced that it will invest $2.5 billion to address California’s affordable housing shortage. Some of those funds will be applied statewide. Others will be allocated for projects in the Bay Area. Three hundred million dollars will go towards affordable housing on Apple-owned property.
Thirty-five democrats in Congress sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee to pass a federal revenge porn law that would criminalize the nonconsensual posting of sexually explicit images online. The letter followed Congresswoman Katie Hill’s resignation from Congress after someone posted nude images depicting her and others as well as accusations that she was having inappropriate relations with campaign and congressional staffers. Hill blames her husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing, for posting the photos.
Finally, Massachusetts Institute of Technology president Rafael Reif acknowledged last week that women and people of color often face exclusion and belittlement on campus and that it’s something the university is trying to improve. The development follows revelations of Jeffrey Epstein’s ties to the university.