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News Posted on December 1, 2016

Professor Joh Publishes Essay on Surveillance Technology in Slate

Professor Elizabeth Joh published an essay in Slate regarding lessons that can be learned from the police use of body cameras and how they might be applied to other new law enforcement surveillance technologies.

Though body cameras were rapidly adopted by numerous police departments as a means of providing an “obvious, visible response” to concerns about excessive force and racial bias, they have “only partially fulfilled” expectations that a video record would avoid disagreements about what happened in violent encounters, and have raised numerous questions about their use, Joh writes.

“Should the police have the discretion to turn them on or off, and if so, in what circumstances?” Joh asks. “Could individuals ask the police to turn off their cameras, and should officers comply? Who should be given legal access to body camera video and how? How long should police departments store the data? Could as yet unrealized technologies like facial recognition be incorporated into body cameras? Without regulations or guidelines, body cameras are becoming all-purpose surveillance tools.”

Joh’s essay includes “five things to keep in mind” about surveillance technology, including “Don’t adopt the technology first, and work out the regulatory and policy details later.”

Professor Joh's scholarship focuses on criminal procedure and policing, with a special emphasis on DNA evidence, undercover policing, and new surveillance technologies.