Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Volume 13  | Fall 2017  | Number 1

Neighborhood Watch 2.0: private Surveillance and the Internet of Things


Daniel Healow
13 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  1

11/30/2017

Constitutional & Regulatory

The use of low-cost cameras and internet-connected sensors is sharply increasing among local law enforcement, businesses, and average Americans. While the motives behind adopting these devices may differ, this trend means more data about the events on Earth is rapidly being collected and aggregated each day. Current and future products, such as drones and self-driving cars, contain cameras and other embedded sensors used by private individuals in public settings. To function, these devices must passively collect information about other individuals who have not given the express consent that is commonly required when one is actively using an online service, such as email or social media. Generally, courts do not recognize a right to privacy once a person enters public spaces. However, the impending convergence of privately-owned sensors gathering information about the surrounding world creates a new frontier in which to consider private liberties, community engagement, and civic duties. This Article will analyze the legal and technological developments surrounding: (1) existing data sources used by local law enforcement; (2) corporate assistance with law enforcement investigations; and (3) volunteering of personal data to make communities safer. After weighing relative privacy interests, this Article will explain, under current laws, the utility of private data to make communities safer, while simultaneously advancing the goals of fiscal responsibility, government accountability, and community engagement.

 

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The Drone Wars: The Need for Federal Protection of Individual Privacy

Toban Platt
13 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  27

11/30/2017

Constitutional & Regulatory

Drones—also known as unmanned aerial vehicles—are lightweight, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive aircraft with a wide variety of applications. Drone popularity has recently exploded, with an estimated two million recreational drones sold in 2016 and analysts predicting that sales will increase to 4.3 million units sold annually by 2020. 1 With this increased popularity comes increased concerns about how they will be used and who will fly them. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state legislatures have created drone-specific legislation and rules governing drone use. However, these rules and regulations are more concerned with regulating drones with in relation to public lands and public safety rather than protecting privacy. To protect an individual’s privacy and make them feel secure in their home, new privacy legislation must be created to protect against drones’ unique technical and physical capabilities. This new legislation may be created by each state or by the FAA, with different approaches having their own benefits and drawbacks. However, to develop the most effective and comprehensive privacy scheme, the FAA should create a privacy regulation for individual states to implement through conditional preemption. This will provide a uniform privacy law that has the necessary enforcement mechanisms to protect individual privacy.

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Law at the Speed of Dial Up: The Need for a Clear Standard for Employee Use of Employer-Provided Email Systems that Will Withstand Changing Technology

Jeffrey S. Bosley & Taylor Ball
13 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  49

11/30/2017

Constitutional & Regulatory

In 2007, the National Labor Relations Board adopted two clear rules concerning employee use of employerprovided email in Guard Publishing Co.: First, the Board held that employers were not required to allow employees to use employer-provided email to engage in protected activity pursuant to section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act; second, the Board held that if an employer allowed employees to use its email system for non-work purposes, it could still lawfully adopt and enforce nondiscriminatory rules that restricted otherwise protected activity. In 2014, the Board reversed this precedent in Purple Communications, Inc., and held that employees have a presumptive right to use an employer’s email system to engage in protected activity on non-working time if they are provided access to email for work-related purposes.

This article analyzes the conflicting guidance provided by Guard Publishing Co. and Purple Communications, Inc. against the broader context of prior precedent concerning employer property rights. By highlighting numerous unanswered questions left open by the Board’s analysis in Purple Communications, Inc., this article advocates for the Board to reevaluate its position on employee use of company technology resources, including email, and to adopt a new framework that can readily and predictably be applied to new and developing technologies.

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Why the Renewable Energy Credit Market Needs Standardization

Lisa Koperski
13 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  69

11/30/2017

Constitutional & Regulatory

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are a relatively new financial instrument that help to stimulate the renewable energy market through capturing the premiums for environmental attributes associated with electricity, hopefully, encouraging investment in new renewable energy projects. However, lack of standardization in both the definition of RECs and the ways that RECs can be exchanged and administered has led to confusion on the parts of all concerned—the REC seller, the REC buyer, regulators, and the public at large—stymying investment in renewable energy projects and creating market inefficiency. Much like inconsistent accounting definitions or divergent requirements for providing investment guidance to consumers would cause negative externalities in a market, inconsistent definitions of RECs impede the marketplace from receiving the anticipated gains from trading RECs in a purely liquid market.

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