Monday, September 16, 2013

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Frank Pasquale

This week, Concurring Opinions will be hosting a book symposium on Gabriella Coleman’s book Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Princeton University Press 2012). (My post is here.) To get a sense of the importance of computing technologies to the future of law enforcement and the First Amendment, consider this recent story on how police scan tweets:
BlueJay, the "Law Enforcement Twitter Crime Scanner"... provides real-time, geo-fenced access to every single public tweet so that local police can keep tabs on #gunfire, #meth, and #protest (yes, those are real examples) in their communities. BlueJay is the product of BrightPlanet, whose tagline is "Deep Web Intelligence" and whose board is populated with people like Admiral John Poindexter of Total Information Awareness infamy.
On the second anniversary of Occupy, it's remarkable to consider how casually speech is conflated with crime. Coleman's book is an important comment on how some communities have begun to respond. I hope Balkinization readers will join our conversations on it this week.

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