Under the leadership of Clinical Professor Deirdre Mulligan, students at the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall School of Law are striving to answer these questions while working to fill a gaping policy vacuum. David Snyder, a third-year student at Boalt and clinic participant, says, “A lot of cities are really increasing use of cameras without a lot of thought about preventing nefarious uses.”
Snyder and other students have helped California communities as disparate as Fresno and Richmond assess the impact of video surveillance on residents and develop clear guidelines for its use.
As cameras become more sophisticated, the issues — and potential solutions — become more complex. “These cases are at the boundaries of law and technological development,” explains Mulligan. In fact, the clinic frequently works with the College of Engineering and School of Information to research the uses and abuses of surveillance, and to develop technological as well as legal safeguards.
This semester the clinic will be working with the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of San Francisco’s surveillance program — research that Mulligan believes is crucial to the debate. “It’s not just about privacy,” she says. “It’s about whether this is the right technology for the job.”