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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Gang Policing: The Post Stop-and-Frisk Justification for Profile-Based Policing

Babe Howell


Gang Policing: The Post Stop-and-Frisk Justification for Profile-Based Policing


This article argues, via data obtained by FOIL from the NYPD, that, like other jurisdictions across the nation, the NYPD has manipulated and exaggerated the threat of gang crime in order to generate a “moral panic” and shore up support for intensive and unjustified policing and surveillance of youth of color based on non-criminal conduct. This surveillance extends to social media and generates an extensive database of alleged gang and crew members. The NYPD’s Gang Division, which, despite decreasing crime, has quadrupled its officers as part of “Operation Crew Cut”, is but one example of a dangerous national trend. As Broken Windows policing and the overuse of stop-and-frisk have garnered public criticism, the NYPD has shifted tactics, increasingly relying on an overblown narrative of gang and crew violence as a justification to police non-criminal conduct – a narrative that allows law enforcement to avoid oversight and transparency. This article challenges the NYPD’s gang narrative as a hollow justification for profile-based policing that plays on the fears of the public while continuing to over-police youth and communities of color.

Controlling Your Online Profile: Reality or an Illusion? A Research into Informed Consent as a Mechanism to Regulate Commercial Profiling

Controlling Your Online Profile: Reality or an Illusion? A Research into Informed Consent as a Mechanism to Regulate Commercial Profiling

Eva Heeger


Informational privacy is the right of an individual to determine for himself what information to share with which person. For informational privacy to be adequate protected individuals should have sufficient possibilities to give or withhold free, specific and informed consent to the proposed use.

Informed consent is the mechanism for consent on the Internet. Controllers are obliged to provide the data subject with information, which are usually presented in privacy policies or terms and conditions. Based on this information the data subject consents to the proposed use. Consent is usually an action, which signifies acceptance of the terms and conditions.

The European Commission has proposed a massive reform of the current data protection law. The proposed Data Protection Regulation (hereafter: Regulation) aims at enhancing the mechanism of informed consent, by increasing and clarifying the obligations of controllers and strengthening the rights of data subjects.

Internet companies, such as Google and Facebook, use informed consent to establish profiles about their users and subsequently earn money of these profiles. However, several risks are connected to profiling, relating to inter alia discrimination, stereotyping and stigmatisation. In addition, profiles may not correspond with reality if they are based on flawed information. This might result in incorrect decisions being taken. Moreover, profiling results in privacy risks as data subjects are becoming increasingly transparent to companies.

This thesis aims to research whether informed consent, as proposed in the Regulation, is a suitable mechanism for data subjects to effectively regulate the use of their data by companies for profiling purposes.

It is argued that informed consent is a mechanism that works in theory only. Control over personal data would be feasible in practice if Internet companies would uphold the rules and if these companies are sufficiently monitored. However, processing activities are often difficult to understand because of their complex and obscure nature. This makes supervision complicated and almost impossible. In addition, data subjects are uninterested and often unaware of what they are consenting to. In addition, these data subjects are seldom aware that they are a product and represent a certain economic value. Moreover, data subjects lack market options. Leaving cyberspace and stop using the Internet completely is hardly an option nowadays. Furthermore, personal data are permanently collected and continuously processed for never-ending purposes. However, by upholding the purpose limitation principle society is unable to truly benefiting from Big Data. Services, such as Google Street View, would not be possible.

Therefore, informed consent does not allow data subjects to effectively regulate the use of their information, nor is the mechanism likely to resolve the risks related to profiling. Therefore, I urge the Union legislators to seriously look for alternatives for informed consent, as I fear this mechanism will become completely meaningless.

Several recommendations and alternatives are put forward to solve the informed consent problem. Informational norms might be created or the accountability of Internet companies could be increased. These options should be further researched.

Say it to My Facebook: Authentication of Social Media Evidence

Lorrie Hayes

memphis law school

Say it to My Facebook: Authentication of Social Media Evidence 


This Note looks at the current approaches taken by courts across the country to authentication of social media evidence. A uniform approach that treats social media evidence similarly to other forms of evidence is argued for.

Avoiding Misrepresentation in Informal Social Media Discovery

Agnieszka McPeak


Avoiding Misrepresentation in Informal Social Media Discovery


Social media data is changing the face of civil discovery in many cases, and informal discovery of social media content on sites such as Facebook can prove extremely valuable for litigants. But the process of performing informal searches of social media content tests the boundaries of ethics rules, particularly those dealing with misrepresentation. Social media websites shield some content from public view, and lawyers may run afoul of the ethics rules if they use improper tactics to gain access to private information.

This essay explores the current ethical boundaries of informal discovery as they apply to the social media data of unrepresented persons in particular. It addresses how informal searches of social media are not only permitted, but required in some cases. Further, this essay suggests the proper approach to avoiding misrepresentation in informal discovery of social media data is to require affirmative disclosures when attempting to access private online content. Such disclosures are supported by the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and by the need to safeguard against abuses because of the casual and informal nature of social media.

J.S. et al. v. Backpage (Washington Supreme Court)


J.S. et al. v. Backpage (Washington Supreme Court)

This week the Washington Supreme Court in J.S. et al. v. Backpage ruled that 47 U.S.C. 230 (Communications Decency Act) does not prevent three young girls who were trafficked on Backpage from suing the site.  Generally speaking, the CDA gives social media providers like Backpage immunity from the actions of their users so long as they don’t materially contribute to the content.  In this case, the plaintiffs assert that, Backpage “did more than just provide a forum for illegal content; the plaintiffs allege the defendants helped develop it.”

Right to Be Forgotten vs. Free Speech

Edward Lee


Right to Be Forgotten vs. Free Speech


The EU right to be forgotten is a new privacy right that has sparked great controversy around the world. As more countries consider adopting such a right, the controversy will only intensify. This Essay is intended to map the various alternatives countries and search engines have in reconciling the potential conflict between the RTBF and the free speech interest in access to information. The solutions are far more varied than the all-or-nothing assumption implicit in the media’s portrayal of the issue. In the conflict between privacy and free speech, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a loser.