Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Privacy Right In Historical Location Data Still In Question

There has been a good deal of discussion about a recent federal district court ruling that the government's need to obtain a warrant before obtaining cell phone records for historical location data. (See report from Wall Street Journal). However, most of the reports have been misleading as they have suggested that this is the only federal district court ruling on this subject. There have been at least two other district court decisions on this subject in other jurisdictions that have decided that the government does not need to obtain a warrant for such information. As a result, the most recent ruling does not makes things clearer. Instead, it adds more uncertainty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why Spatial Law?

I have been asked a few times why I am interested in developing spatial law? For those who don't appreciate the technology, my answer is difficult to understand. However, for those who do . . .

I believe that spatial technology, in all its forms, has the potential to transform all aspects of society and the global economy in ways that most people cannot imagine. Since I do not have an expertise in such fields such as engineering or software, I am trying to contribute to its growth in a way that is best suited to my skills and experience.

I am not so naive as to assume that the industry needs a fully developed body of spatial law in order to succeed. However, I do believe that issues such as privacy, liability, data ownership and national security will impact the technology's development; in order for the industry to reach its full potential, these issues need to be considered and addressed.

Currently, the legal and policy communities have been unable to keep pace with the rapid changes in the technology. My hope is that bringing all of these issues together will increase both their visibility and importance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scientific American

The Scientific American has a couple of great articles on privacy and spatial data. Esther Dyson does an excellent job in describing the difference between a privacy loss and a security loss in her article. She always explains why defining a reasonable expectation of privacy can be so difficult.
An article on RFID technology describes a number of ways in which spatial data can be collected on individuals and why certain RFID technology may be particularly vulnerable to improper collections.

The author in the second article discusses how and why government authorities should regulate the collection of spatial data from RFID's. However, spatial data can be collected from a number of different sources and used for a variety of different purposes. I am concerned that if legislation is not properly drafted, efforts to regulate the collection and use of certain types of spatial data will negatively impact the collection and use of other types of spatial data.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reading Recommendation

I strongly recommend that anyone interested in Spatial Law issues pick up a copy of the Journal of Space Law published by the University of Mississippi School of Law and read the article by Atsuyo Ito titled "Improvement to the Legal Regime for the Effective Use of Satellite Remote Sensing Data for Disaster Management and Protection of the Environment". It is an excellent discussion of key issues affecting not only remote sensing data but all types of spatial data.