By Andrew Cohen
Much like her chosen field, technology law expert Catherine Crump’s career has raced forward at eye-popping speed over the past decade. A 2004 Stanford Law School graduate, Crump recently became the new associate director of Berkeley Law’s Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic.
“The clinic has a stellar reputation among those who work on law and technology issues,” she said. “When the opportunity arose to work there, it was too good to pass up.”
Crump will supervise students on cases and projects and help teach the clinic’s seminar. She has focused largely on privacy and free speech in her career, and looks forward to guiding clinic students through the ever-expanding legal issues flowing from those and other tech-law areas.
“I’m eager to help Berkeley Law students develop concrete advocacy skills that will serve them well once they begin their practices,” Crump said. “At the same time, I hope to expose them to the exciting range of complex legal issues arising as a result of fast-paced technological development. Technology is having a huge impact on the law, unsettling legal principles that were in place for a long time. This makes it a particularly fascinating area in which to work.”
In Crump’s view, the explosion of government surveillance—from the mass collection of Americans’ telephone records to the proliferation of license plate readers and surveillance cameras—calls for monitoring the monitors. She has litigated challenges to surveillance programs, such as the National Security Agency’s mass collection of domestic call records, as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s assertion that it can—absent suspicion—search individuals’ laptops and cell phones at the international border.
“People carry vast quantities of sensitive, personal information on their electronic devices, from personal photographs to medical records to financial information” Crump explained. “The government should not be permitted to search through all of that data without at least some reason to believe that the devices carry evidence of wrongdoing.”
After graduating from law school, Crump clerked for Judge M. Margaret McKeown on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She then worked for nine years in New York as a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology, and was also a non-resident fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
Crump gained valuable teaching experience at NYU School of Law, spending two semesters as an adjunct professor at its Technology Law & Policy Clinic. She led NYU Law students in several projects related to the Freedom of Information Act, one of her areas of expertise.
Crump has argued before numerous federal district and circuit courts, has testified before Congress and the European Parliament, and appears regularly in the national news media. Recently, her research has focused on license plate readers and drone surveillance.
“What’s exciting about the Samuelson Clinic is that it lets students develop expertise on the forefront of national debates,” Crump said. “The American public has really woken up to the fact that our cell phones, for example, can be used to track us. There’s a high level of attention and concern about how technology is being used in ways that impact our civil liberties.”