07 March 2015

Geoimmersive Surveillance and gateways

Geo-Immersive Surveillance & Canadian Privacy Law, a 348 page Juridical Science dissertation by Stuart Andrew Hargreaves (Faculty of Law, University of Toronto) from 2013 comments
Geo-immersive technologies digitally map public space for the purposes of creating online maps that can be explored by anyone with an Internet connection. This thesis considers the implications of their growth and argues that if deployed on a wide enough scale they would pose a threat to the autonomy of Canadians. I therefore consider legal means of regulating their growth and operation, whilst still seeking to preserve them as an innovative tool. I first consider the possibility of bringing ‘invasion of privacy’ actions against geo-immersive providers, but my analysis suggests that the jurisprudence relies on a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ approach that makes it virtually impossible for claims to privacy ‘in public’ to succeed. I conclude that this can be traced to an underlying philosophy that ties privacy rights to an idea of autonomy based on shielding the individual from the collective. I argue instead considering autonomy as ‘relational’ can inform a dialectical approach to privacy that seeks to protect the ability of the individual to control their exposure in a way that can better account for privacy claims made in public. I suggest that while it is still challenging to craft a private law remedy based on such ideas, Canada’s data protection legislation may be a more suitable vehicle. I criticize the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s current approach to geo-immersive technologies as inadequate, however, and instead propose an enhanced application of the substantive requirements under Schedule 1 of PIPEDA that is consistent with a relational approach to privacy. I suggest this would serve to adequately curtail the growth of geo-immersive technologies while preserving them as an innovative tool. I conclude that despite criticisms that ‘privacy’ is an inadequate remedy for the harms of surveillance, in certain commercial contexts the fair information principles can, if implemented robustly, serve to regulate the collection of personal information ‘at source’ in a fashion that greatly restricts the potential for those harms.
'Rights of Passage: On Doors, Technology, and the Fourth Amendment' by Irus Braverman in (2015) Law, Culture and the Humanities comments
The importance of the door for human civilization cannot be overstated. In various cultures, the door has been a central technology for negotiating the distinction between inside and outside, private and public, and profane and sacred. By tracing the material and symbolic significance of the door in American Fourth Amendment case law, this article illuminates the vitality of matter for law’s everyday practices. In particular, it highlights how various door configurations affect the level of constitutional protections granted to those situated on the inside of the door and the important role of vision for establishing legal expectations of privacy. Eventually, I suggest that we might be witnessing the twilight of the “physical door” era and the beginning of a “virtual door” era in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. As recent physical and technological changes present increasingly sophisticated challenges to the distinctions between inside and outside, private and public, and prohibited and accepted visions, the Supreme Court will need to carefully articulate what is worth protecting on the other side of the door.