Legal concerns of public video recording


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If a member of the public asked you to stop filming them, but you were filming them for a serious reason, then you might well continue to film them despite or even especially because they asked you to stop. You're not being "a dick" about it if your original reason to film somebody was not at all flippant.

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Send Activation Email. Already have an account? Log in. By its nature, such content-based editorializing is subject to full First Amendment protection because a speaker is entitled to autonomy to choose the content of his message. The First Amendment rights of such systems will no doubt be debated as the technology matures.

Digital assistants have the potential to gather massive amounts of data about users. Many predictive models rely extensively on lagging indicators of consumption, such as purchases made. Incorporating voice data into current predictive models has the potential to make them vastly more accurate and specific. Adding such data into the predictive model, might result in the user beginning to see ads for romantic tropical vacations, instead of books about coping with grief.

User interactions with digital assistants will also give rise to new predictive models. Before going to sleep, a user might ask a digital assistant to play relaxing music, lower the temperature of the home, and turn off certain lights.


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  • Terms of service of the most popular digital assistants typically do not indicate the precise moment when recording starts. Some voice-controlled products have been marketed with an increased focus on privacy concerns. This makes the potential data set about the user much larger, which results in a more robust predictive model.

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    Legal analysis in this growing field should distinguish voice-data recordings and data derived from these recordings from the text of these recordings. The current legal framework applicable to voice recordings captured by digital assistants and their use in predictive models is very limited.

    California has enacted a statute governing certain uses of voice recordings collected from connected televisions. See CA Bus. However, the states generally have not regulated the use of voice recordings from digital assistants, and have permitted use of voice data in various predictive models with relatively little restriction. Each digital assistant has terms of service and privacy policies that their parent companies promulgate and change from time to time. Users, therefore, should know that voice recordings are captured by digital assistants with their consent.

    What's Wrong With Public Video Surveillance? | American Civil Liberties Union

    The terms of service for some digital assistants specifically note that voice recordings may be used to improve the digital assistant itself and may be shared with third parties. Thus, voice data is likely to be used in predictive models. Call centers have been using real-time voice-data analytics systems. Interestingly, as part of these technology packages, certain voice-data analytics systems can detect and scrub personally identifiable information from voice recordings. Digital assistants may use similar technologies to avoid recording and storing regulated content e.

    Doing so may expose those recordings for use in various predictive models. Even if digital assistants only record interactions between the user and the device, the richness of voice data means that predictive models may become finely tuned to each individual user. Every interaction with a digital assistant may help build a unique user profile based on predictive modeling. As individuals sacrifice privacy for convenience offered by digital assistants, will their profile will become more akin to a private journal? As the technologies develop, what rights can the individual be said to have given up to the discretionary use of the service provider and third parties?

    Digital assistants are not the only voice-controlled devices available to consumers. Unsurprisingly, there have already been a few well-publicized data security incidents involving voice data from these types of products. Although the products may be relatively niche at present, the issues raised are not and underscore broader risks associated with the use and collection of consumer-voice data. One security incident involved a line of Internet-connected stuffed-animal toys. The toys had the ability to record and send voice messages between parents or other adults and children through a phone-based app.

    Voice data from both parents and children was collected and stored on a hosted service. Unfortunately for users, the voice-recording database was publicly accessible and not password protected. Over two million voice recordings were exposed. Worse still, third parties gained unauthorized access to the voice data and leveraged it for ransom demands. Over , user account records were compromised. Voice data was transferred to a third-party data processor, who reserved the right to share data with additional third parties.

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