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Category Archives: Legal Research

Lawless Surveillance

Friedman, Barry, Lawless Surveillance (February 1, 2022). 97 N.Y.U. L. Rev. (2022), NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 22-28, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4111547

“Here in the United States, policing agencies are engaging in mass collection of personal data, building a vast architecture of surveillance. License plate readers collect our location information. Mobile forensics data terminals suck in the contents of cell phones during traffic stops. CCTV maps our movements. Cheap storage means most of this is kept for long periods of time—sometimes into perpetuity. Artificial intelligence makes searching and mining the data a snap. For most of us whose data is collected, stored, and mined, there is no suspicion whatsoever of wrongdoing. This growing network of surveillance is almost entirely unregulated. It is, in short, lawless. The Fourth Amendment touches almost none of it, either because what is captured occurs in public, and so is supposedly “knowingly exposed,” or because of doctrine that shields information collected from third parties. It is unregulated by statutes because legislative bodies—when they even know about these surveillance systems—see little profit in taking on the police. In the face of growing concern over such surveillance, this Article argues there is a constitutional solution sitting in plain view. In virtually every other instance in which personal information is collected by the government, courts require that a sound regulatory scheme be in place before information collection occurs. The rulings on the mandatory nature of regulation are remarkably similar, no matter under which clause of the Constitution collection is challenged. This Article excavates this enormous body of precedent and applies it to the problem of government mass data collection. It argues that before the government can engage in such surveillance, there must be a regulatory scheme in place. And by changing the default rule from allowing police to collect absent legislative prohibition, to banning collection until there is legislative action, legislatures will be compelled to act (or there will be no surveillance). The Article defines what a minimally-acceptable regulatory scheme for mass data collection must include, and shows how it can be grounded in the Constitution.”

Study: Americans Own More Than 415 Million Firearms

English, William, 2021 National Firearms Survey: Updated Analysis Including Types of Firearms Owned (May 13, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4109494 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4109494 “This report summarizes the findings of a national survey of firearms ownership and use conducted between February 17th and March 23rd, 2021 by the professional survey firm Centiment. This survey, which is part… Continue Reading

Where Online Hate Speech Can Bring the Police to Your Door

The New York Times: “Battling far-right extremism, Germany goes further than other Western democracies in policing online behavior, testing the limits of free speech on the internet…Hate speech, extremism, misogyny and misinformation are well-known byproducts of the internet. But the people behind the most toxic online behavior typically avoid any personal major real-world consequences. Most… Continue Reading

The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools

Pen America – Banned in the USA: “Key Findings: More books banned; More districts; More states; More students losing access to literature. “More” is the operative word for this report on school book bans, which offers the first comprehensive look at bans throughout the 2021–22 school year.  This report offers an update on the count… Continue Reading

U.S. Agencies Are Buying Access to Bulk Internet Records

Gizmodo – “Sen. Ron Wyden urged inspectors general at three departments to investigate the military’s purchases of large swaths of data: “Multiple military intelligence offices have paid a data broker for access to internet traffic logs, which could reveal the online browsing histories of U.S. citizens, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a letter Wednesday, citing… Continue Reading

Mozilla urges action to unpick platform browser lock-ins

Tech Crunch: “As antitrust regulators around the world dial up scrutiny of platform power, Mozilla has published a piece of research digging into the at times subtle yet always insidious ways operating systems exert influence to keep consumers locked to using their own-brand browsers rather than seeking out and switching to independent options — while… Continue Reading

NY AG James Sues Donald Trump for Years of Financial Fraud

“New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management, and involved entities for engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits. The lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump, with the help of his children Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump,… Continue Reading

New US company owner database ‘taking way too long’ to implement, experts warn

ICIJ – “After ICIJ’s FinCEN Files investigation, transparency advocates cheered a new law mandating a beneficial ownership register in the U.S. Two years later, experts are expressing serious concerns. A key U.S. reform designed to halt anonymous companies hiding illicit activities and funds remains stalled in the U.S. Treasury Department two years after the FinCEN… Continue Reading

Tracked: How colleges use AI to monitor student protests

The Dallas Morning News, Arijit (Ari) D. Sen [subscription or online database access. Note – they are also making public nearly 3,000 documents, covering more than 56,000 pages from these schools]: “The pitch was attractive and simple. For a few thousand dollars a year, Social Sentinel offered schools across the country sophisticated technology to scan… Continue Reading

Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

CRS Report – Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress, September 19, 2022: “Voter registration policies are typically determined by state and local governments, subject to certain federal requirements. Historically, much of thefederalpolicy discussion surrounding voter registration has focused on providing access to registration opportunities. Some federal statutes that primarily address preserving voting access… Continue Reading

Statement to the January 6th Committee on Reforming the Insurrection Act

Brennan Center for Justice: “On September 20, 2022, Elizabeth Goitein, Senior Director of the Liberty & National Security Program, and Joseph Nunn, Counsel, submitted a written statement to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Their statement describes the history and flaws of the Insurrection Act and… Continue Reading

Global Registry of Fossil Fuels

Global Registry of Fossil Fuel Emissions and Reserves: “The Global Registry is the first open-source database of oil, gas and coal production and reserves globally, expressed in CO2-equivalent. By increasing transparency and accountability around fossil fuel production, the Registry aims to improve understanding of extraction impacts on the remaining carbon budget and ultimately to inform… Continue Reading