New Paper: Biometric Privacy Laws – How a Little-Known Illinois Law Made Facebook Illegal

Program on Economics & Privacy affiliated faculty member, Professor Jane Bambauer, explores the recent developments in biometric privacy laws in her latest paper, “Biometric Privacy Laws: How a Little-Known Illinois Law Made Facebook Illegal.”

Banks and retailers are increasingly interested in using biometric information to authenticate customers by converting a scan of their biological features into an elaborate password.

The benefits of biometric authentication are obvious, but so are the drawbacks: since the systems use scans of irises, fingers, and even facial structures, a user’s biometric passwords are on public display every time they leave the house. Some states have passed biometric privacy laws to help facilitate the development of biometric authentication technologies. But these well-intentioned biometric privacy laws showcase the problems that arise when public policy tries to keep up with technology.

They are wildly overbroad, potentially exposing even individual users of basic photo organization software to civil liability based on conduct that poses no risk to data security. What is more, the laws are also unlikely to be necessary to accomplish their intended goals; companies that are developing biometric authentication systems to protect sensitive personal data are already using technological solutions to manage the security risks, rendering the legal solutions obsolete. Finally, their scope possibly contravenes the First Amendment and the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Although the purpose of these nascent laws is laudable, so far they appear to have only spurred class action litigation that is likely to harm, rather than help, the interests of the average consumer.

Read the full paper here.

June 8, 2017 – Public Policy Symposium on Privacy and Data Security

Registration is still open for the 5th Annual Public Policy Symposium on the Law & Economics of Privacy and Data Security on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School.

The morning keynote will feature Omri Ben-Shahar (The University of Chicago); the luncheon will feature a keynote address from David A. Hyman (Georgetown Law), and a panel discussion on the The Future of FTC Privacy & Data Security Policy featuring Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Speakers at the Symposium also include Julie Brillformer FTC Commissioner and partner at Hogan Lovells,  Joshua D. Wrightformer FTC Commissioner and professor of law at Antonin Scalia Law School,  William C. MacLeodformer Director  of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Chair of the ABA Antitrust Section, and Lydia Parnes, former Director  of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, and partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

Workshop for Attorneys General and Regulators on the Economics of Information, Advertising, and Privacy

The Program on Economics & Privacy (PEP) and Mason Attorneys General Education Program are pleased to announce their upcoming Workshop for Attorneys General on the Economics of Information, Advertising, and Privacy, Wednesday, June 7, 2017 through Thursday, June 8, 2017. The Workshop will bring together state attorneys general staff and regulators from throughout the United States to discuss and hear from leading experts on the economics of information on the issues confronting policy makers in the digital economy.

The first day of the Workshop (June 7) will be devoted to in-depth instruction on the economics of information, advertising, and privacy. On June 8, attendees will take part in PEP’s 5th Annual Symposium on the Law & Economics of Privacy and Data Security. In partnership with the Future of Privacy Forum and the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy, this year’s symposium will explore the development of a benefit-cost framework for privacy and cybersecurity policy. Scholars from interdisciplinary backgrounds, including economics, law, public policy, business and marketing, will address topics such as: How to evaluate the success of data control programs; the proper role of ex ante regulation versus ex post enforcement; and the proper accounting of subjective privacy harms as well as the benefits from tailored content and advertising.

5th Annual Public Policy Conference on the Law & Economics of Privacy and Data Security

The Program on Economics & Privacy, in partnership with the Future of Privacy Forum, and the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy, will hold its 5th Annual Public Policy Conference on the Law & Economics of Privacy and Data Security, on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, VA.

Data flows are central to an increasingly large share of the economy. A wide array of products and business models—from the sharing economy and artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles and embedded medical devices—rely on personal data. Consequently, privacy regulation leaves a large economic footprint. As with any regulatory enterprise, the key to sound data policy is striking a balance between competing interests and norms that leaves consumers better off; finding an approach that addresses privacy concerns, but also supports the benefits of technology is an increasingly complex challenge. Not only is technology continuously advancing, but individual attitudes, expectations, and participation vary greatly. New ideas and approaches to privacy must be identified and developed at the same pace and with the same focus as the technologies they address.

The morning keynote will feature Omri Ben-Shahar (The University of Chicago); the luncheon will feature a keynote address from David A. Hyman (Georgetown Law), and a panel discussion on the The Future of FTC Privacy & Data Security Policy featuring Thomas B. Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. This conference will also feature speakers from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), The George Washington University, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.

Click here to register.

Call for Papers: Developing a Benefit-Cost Framework for Data Policy

The Program on Economics & Privacy at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and the Future of Privacy Forum are seeking papers to explore the development of a benefit-cost framework in privacy policy. Scholars from an interdisciplinary background, including economics, law, public policy, business and marketing, are encouraged to submit abstracts for consideration.

Selected submissions will be presented at the Fifth Annual Public Policy Symposium on the Law & Economics of Privacy and Data Security Policy, on June 8, 2017, at the Antonin Scalia Law School, and published in a special symposium issue of the Journal of Law, Economics & Policy.

Click here for more information and to learn how to submit your paper.

Papers for Second Annual Digital Information Policy Conference Announced

The Program on Economics & Privacy (PEP) at George Mason University School of Law will host a Scholars Conference on the economics of digital information policy on Friday, April 28, 2017. The mission of PEP is to promote the sound application of economic analysis to issues surrounding the digital information economy through original research, policy outreach, and education.

The Scholars Conference will showcase fourteen original law & economics research papers. Presenters and topics include:

  • Derek Bambauer (U of Arizona Law) on Algorithms, Decisionmaking, and Privacy
  • Sam Blazek (U of Texas) on the Price of Privacy and Anonymous Electronic Marketplaces
  • James Cooper (Director, PEP) on Measuring Autonomy Losses from the 2012 Google Privacy Policy Changes
  • Martina Ferracane (European Centre for Intl Political Economy) on Stricter Regimes of Data Flows
  • Mark Flood (US Treasury Office of Financial Research) on Cryptography and the Economics of Supervisory Information
  • Jon Klick (U of Pennsylvania Law) on State Data Breaches and Income Tax e-Filing
  • Michael Kummer (Georgia Tech) on Mobile Applications and Access to Private Data
  • Siona Listokin (GMU Policy & Govt) on Data Collection, Data Use, and Firm Performance
  • Talal Rahim (Boston U) on Controlling Prices on Peer-to-Peer Platforms
  • Sasha Romanosky (RAND Corp) on Content Analysis of Cyber Insurance Policies
  • Meiping Sun (Columbia) on EMV Technology and Credit Card Fraud
  • Ying Lei Toh (U of Toulouse) on Privacy and Quality in Data Disclosure
  • Jose Tudon (U of Chicago) on an Empirical Investigation on Net Neutrality
  • Liad Wagman (Illinois Inst of Technology) on Effects of State Wiretapping Laws on Drug Crimes

The Conference will also feature a luncheon keynote from Ginger Jin, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics.

The Scholars Conference will be held at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School, located at 3351 Fairfax Drive in Arlington, Virginia. The conference will run from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. There is no cost to register, and continental breakfast and lunch will be served.

You can see event information and the agenda, and register to attend at: http://www.cvent.com/d/yvqfvm

For further information, you may call or send an email to Jeff Smith, at 703.993.8382 or LECManne@gmu.edu.

New Research from PEP Scholars

Anonymity, Autonomy, and the Collection of Personal Data: Measuring the Privacy Impact of Google’s 2012 Privacy Policy Change

James Cooper
George Mason University – Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

The Missing Role of Economics in FTC Privacy Policy

James Cooper
George Mason University – Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Joshua D. Wright
George Mason University – Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

 

 

 

Professor James Cooper Appears on Tech Freedom Panel Discussing Broadband Privacy

1st-blog-post-edited-picture

On Monday, PEP Director Professor James Cooper had the opportunity to join other privacy experts in a discussion on the proper role of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in enforcement of privacy rules. Professor Cooper was joined by Maggie Reardon, Senior Writer at CNET; Christin McMeley, Partner and Chair of the Privacy and Security Practice at Davis Wright Tremaine; Marc Rotenberg, President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); Tim Sparapani, Senior Policy Fellow at CALinnovates; and Berin Szóka, President of Tech Freedom.

You can view the discussion in its entirety below: