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Orin Kerr’s Hill Testimony on Anti-Hacking Law, Comments on Available Surveillance Technology Attract Strong Media Interest

2011/11/22

Orin Kerr’s November 15 testimony before the Congressional Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security has drawn extensive press attention this past week.  NPR’s “All Things Considered” aired a 5-minute interview with Orin on November 20, and a significant number of news columns and op-eds, including by CBS News, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and Wired,  were largely about Orin’s testimony.

In another area of media concern, on November 19 the Wall Street Journal broke a story based on documents it had obtained that “open a rare window into a new global market for the off-the-shelf surveillance technology that has arisen in the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Orin was quoted in that WSJ article:

“Among the most controversial technologies on display at the conference were essentially computer-hacking tools to enable government agents to break into people’s computers and cell phones, log their keystrokes and access their data. Although hacking techniques are generally illegal in the U.S., law enforcement can use them with an appropriate warrant, said Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School and former computer-crime attorney at the Justice Department.”

Orin’s expertise was also called upon in numerous subsequent stories including a front-page story in the November 19 Washington Post about license-plate:

“Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University who has been closely watching the Supreme Court case, said the license plate technology probably would pass constitutional muster because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on public streets. But, Kerr said, the technology’s silent expansion has allowed the government to know things it couldn’t possibly know before and that the use of such massive amounts of data needs safeguards.

“‘It’s big brother, and the question is, is it big brother we want, or big brother that we don’t want?’ Kerr said. “This technology could be used for good and it could be used for bad. I think we need a conversation about whether and how this technology is used. Who gets the information and when? How long before the information is deleted? All those questions need scrutiny.’”

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