Greg McNeal in Washington DC for presentations on drones, privacy, and Internet threats

October 13, 2016 — Professor Gregory S. McNeal will participate on a Federal Trade Commission panel today followed by a panel sponsored by R Street, a Washington, DC, think tank. The panel is taking place at the Constitution Center in Washington, D.C., and is part of the FTC’s Fall Technology Series on Drones.

Pepperdine Law Professor Greg McNealFederal Trade Commission panel: “Do Drones Raise Unique Privacy Concerns”

The panel is taking place at the Constitution Center in Washington, D.C., and is part of the FTC’s Fall Technology Series on Drones.

Americans are increasingly familiar with drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). These devices have become one of consumers’ most popular technology purchases; some estimate nearly one million new drones will be purchased in 2016. Many consumer drones are controlled by tablet or smartphone, and feature high-definition cameras, GPS, and the ability to fly autonomously. Commercially available drones are even more sophisticated, and are increasingly used for a variety of activities, including monitoring and inspection, news reporting, search and rescue of missing persons, and delivery of commercial packages or medicine to rural areas. With potential to transform entire industries, the devices may generate significant economic benefits. Although drones may offer society numerous benefits, the potential for information collection through filming, photography or other types of monitoring raises the potential for consumer harms including invasion of privacy, identification, trespass, and harassment. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently convened multi-stakeholder meetings to develop and communicate best practices for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues regarding commercial and private drone use. The drones workshop will explore the following questions related to commercial uses of drones:

What are the present capabilities of drone technologies?
What technology do we foresee in the near future? In the longer term?
What privacy concerns do drones raise?
Are these concerns unique to drones, or are drones no different from other technologies?

For people whose information may be captured by drones, what is the best way to provide transparency?
Given the difficulties of providing consumers with meaningful choices, what should the rules around privacy look like?
Should there be limits on data collection or limits on use?

For more information, please see www.ftc.gov

R Street Institute panel: “Is it the internet of things, or internet of threats? How do we face new challenges to our privacy, security, and property in an increasingly connected world?”

With personal assistants like Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana hanging on our every word, our lives are becoming increasingly convenient. Our surroundings adjust automatically to our needs and preferences, and we can order goods or services on demand without even having to press a button.

But this new world of convenience requires that our surroundings are embedded with electronics — complete with software, sensors, actuators, cameras, microphones, and Internet connectivity. This means new volumes of meticulous data collection, creating new avenues for sensitive private information to be compromised, and significant policy questions about how it is to be stored, shared, and protected.

As these technologies develop, everyday devices (like thermostats, fridges, and toasters) are being embedded with their own software. How does this change traditional ownership rights if we aren’t allowed to view or tinker with their underlying code? Or if selling an item requires the buyer to negotiate and purchase a new license from the manufacturer?

In the age of ubiquitous technology, do we need new rules governing privacy, cybersecurity, and data collection, use, and retention? While everyone thinks security, privacy, and property rights are important, do they think they’re as important as the convenience of these technologies? How do we embrace the benefits, while managing the risks?

Join us for a lively discussion with an expert panel that includes:

Anne Hobson
Fellow, R Street Institute (Moderator)

Ryan Calo
Professor, University of Washington School of Law

Andrew Shore
Partner, Jochum Shore & Trossevin PC; Executive Director, Owners’ Rights Initiative

Gregory S. McNeal
Professor of Law and Public Policy, Pepperdine University

James C. Cooper
Associate Professor and Director of the Program on Economics & Privacy at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School

For more information, please see nvite.com

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