Civil Rights Front and Center at Privacy Law Scholars’ Conference
June 11 2014Last week, George Washington University Law School hosted the Privacy Law Scholars’ Conference, an annual gathering of law professors, technologists, lawyers, and public servants who research privacy law.
The conference is a showcase for new thinking on privacy and technology: a bellwether for where the national debate may be headed. Past topics have included FTC privacy enforcement, Do Not Track, and the US vs European approaches to regulating privacy.
Until last week, civil rights hadn’t been much on the radar. However, this time, the best paper awards (as voted by attendees) went to two projects focused on discrimination, fairness, and civil rights:
- The Scored Society: Due Process for Automated Predictions, by Danielle Citron and Frank Pasquale, which argues for more transparency and fairness in computerized decisionmaking, and
- Big Data’s Disparate Impact, by Andrew Selbst and Solon Barocas, which considers the legal implications of new “big data” systems through a civil rights lens. (The paper is not online yet, but will appear in the coming months.)
This may be a major shift in focus and perspective from a community that will have a significant impact on how we govern technology in the future. These awards show there is an opportunity, and a need, for further collaboration among the civil rights, privacy, and technology communities.