Brian Ray Surveillance Tech Call to Action

January 19, 2023

Video Transcript

Speaker: Brian Ray, Leon M. & Gloria Plevin Professor of Law, Cleveland State University College of Law

Tell us about yourself.

Brian Ray: My name is Brian Ray. I teach at the Cleveland State University College of Law, where I direct the Center for cybersecurity and privacy Protection. As an academic. Working in this space, I have the privilege and the opportunity to work with a range of people across different sectors, folks and government, community activists, as well as community members who are trying to understand these issues and identify solutions.

Why should we care about surveillance technologies?

Brian Ray: Should care about surveillance technologies one because they're everywhere. Whether we realize it or not, increasingly every aspect of our lives we're encountering or actively using devices and encountering systems that are recording information about us. It doesn't have to be something as obvious and as creepy as a camera equipped with facial recognition technology, although those are out there and deployed in a range of environments that you might not recognize. But other technologies that we that we might not know that much about like an automated license plate reader, uh some of us may encounter them when we get a ticket that we didn't realize there was a camera mounted there. Uh it might be annoyed by that. But the problems and the risks that they create go much deeper than simply getting caught for speeding because recording your license plate tells you where you are and if that information is stored over a long period of time and someone wants to find out where you've been, what you've been doing. Uh regardless of whether you've been involved in potentially criminal conduct or not, the collection and the storing of that data without any safeguards creates real risk. And that's just one example among many using our phones exposes us constantly to information tracking. And while there are supposedly safeguards around that, it's actually quite easy. We now know not only for the government for a lawful purpose to get access to that, but also for private entities to purchase that information even when that information is supposedly aggregated and therefore anonymized. We know that it's actually quite easy even with a very small number of data points, to reconnect that and figure out whose data that is, and therefore find out sensitive information about individuals.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to help address these issues in their communities?

Brian Ray: it's actually a lot easier than you might think to get involved in your community and start to change the way we acquire and use surveillance technologies. First step is just educate yourself, find out for yourself how these technologies are being used, who's responsible for acquiring them and whether there are any policies, any safeguards around how they're used, who gets access to the information. The next step is to educate the people around you, educate your friends, your family, community groups that you're involved in, your city council, um your state legislature start to press them to learn about how these technologies are used and take responsibility for creating policies to use them responsible. You don't have to be deeply knowledgeable about the technology itself. Most of the issues around how these are used are relatively easy to understand with just a little bit of self education that said if you are a technologist, uh you're an engineer involved in creating, selling, configuring deploying these technologies, then you ought to take a proactive role. Start to ask questions about what are we designing these technologies to do? What are we proposing to? The people were selling to them that they can and should do. Are we pro proactively educating them about how to create safeguards and how to responsibly use these. And then finally, of course, if you are in a position to influence policy directly, you're a member of a city council, you're part of an agency that's deploying these technologies are making decisions about acquiring them and using them. If you're a frontline individual police officer who's being tasked with using these technologies and your investigations, it's important for you yourself to ask, how would I want this information to be used? What concerns would I have if it was my information that's being collected and then collectively, from the design phase to the policies around acquisition to how we use them, we can start to build safeguards around these. You don't have to have a formal ordinance, like the ones we've discussed across these modules to make that difference. Um, but if that's something you're interested in, then there are lots and lots of resources out there to help you get started to push for one in your community.

Produced with Vocal Video