Originally published in RealClearEducation December 23, 2020. Coauthored by Dr. Williamson M. Evers.

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Colleges and universities nationwide are failing to safeguard the digital safety and privacy of their students. At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, schools faced new challenges when they were thrown into remote learning because of shelter-in-place orders. Now, running predominantly online classes, schools are relying on remote computer access and similar applications to proctor exams online. These arrangements constitute both an invasion of privacy and a possible cybersecurity risk; the schools are overlooking better alternatives.

A wide variety of online proctoring methods is available. Common options…


In his work Life of Lycurgus, the 1st Century essayist and philosopher Plutarch gave a description of a iron based money in use by the ancient Spartans. The given account is that, after seeing the supposed evils prevailed by commerce, the “legendary lawmaker” Lycurgus ordered that all money be iron and be prohibitively heavy in order to make transactions impractical. This account has been frequently been taken at face value, even being included in World History and Geography: Ancient Civilizations by Jackson J. Spielvogel, published by McGraw-Hill in 2019 — currently used in many six grade classes in California. …


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Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

Proposition 24, Digital privacy is once again in the crosshairs of the unholy alliance between big data and government. The Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative of 2020, is on the November ballot. Alastair Mactaggart, the San Francisco real estate developer who filed the initiative, argues that Prop 24 would advance privacy rights. Other proponents concede that it is not ideal, but say the initiative would improve online privacy. Despite their optimistic views, the massive 52-page ballot measure would not improve digital privacy and instead it would create huge exemptions and a new state bureaucracy.

Few states protect individual privacy…


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Photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash

A finales del año calendario 2019, Jeff Pastor, concejal de la Ciudad de Cincinnati, Ohio, pidió una revisión exhaustiva de las disparidades raciales en la vigilancia policial de la ciudad. Pastor pidió a la ciudad una evaluación ante los resultados de un informe ampliamente divulgado realizado por The Stanford Open Policing Project (El Proyecto de Policía Abierta de Stanford). …


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[ This post is co-authored by Dominick Van Cleve.]

In 2014, Aaron Harvey, a 26-year-old studying for his real estate license, was met by U.S. Marshals outside his Las Vegas, Nevada, residence. Not until three weeks after his arrest did Harvey learn he would be charged with crimes in connection with nine murders in San Diego, California, and if convicted could face up to 56 years in state prison.

But prosecutors already knew what Harvey had been insisting to the police-that he wasn’t involved in any killings.

Instead of participating in the homicides, Harvey’s only “connection” to the crimes was…


“EdTech” is both porous and likely to violate students’ rights and privacy

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[This article is co-authored by Williamson M. Evers, Ph.D.]

In April, Berkeley High School students were shocked when in the middle of their video conference, a man joined the meeting, exposing himself and shouting obscenities. The infiltration was just one of the numerous examples of so-called “Zoom bombing”, which occurs when an unwanted or uninvited guest causes a disruption. However, unlike other high profile instances of Zoom bombing, Berkeley High School’s example stands out as the organizers of the video conference followed best practices aimed at preventing such an invasion.

The response was an immediate suspension of video conferencing services…


Governor Jay Inslee signs off on controversial surveillance tool

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Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

The state of Washington was the first in the nation to pass a bill that encompassed government use of facial recognition technology. In March, State Governor Inslee signed SB 6280 into law with an effective date of July 1, 2021.

While the bill has been celebrated as a guiding template for other states, the bill misses the mark in safeguarding civil liberties.

One of the most visible proponents of the bill, President of Microsoft Brad Smith applauded the passage, saying, “Washington state’s new law breaks through what, at times, has been a polarizing debate. When the new law comes into…


Singapore-Style Disease Surveillance Poses Fourth Amendment Question For Americans

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Photo by ev on Unsplash

With a relatively low COVID-19 infection rate, Singapore credits some of its success to disease surveillance measures, including the government’s cell phone tracking application TraceTogether. With Americans increasingly becoming more comfortable with cell phone surveillance to combat the novel coronavirus, would something like TraceTogether be legal in the United States?

TraceTogether does not record location data, nor is information actively sent to the government. Rather, TraceTogether records which phones a given phone comes into contact with. The application sends out Bluetooth signals to nearby TraceTogether users and records any contacts on the phone itself. The data is encrypted and anonymized


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(Aristotle bust by DEA Picture Library by De Agostini)

In his celebrated work The Politics, Aristotle poses the question of which is more expedient, “to be ruled by the best laws, or to be ruled by the best ruler (221)?” After deliberation, Aristotle concludes that the best ruler would be favorable to the best laws and a state with the best ruler would be the ideal constitution for a polis.

When commentators and scholars consider the choice of best ruler or best laws, the issue of corruptibility is frequently the point of focus. The Constitutional Rights Foundation describes how the American Founding Father’s were keenly aware of the liability…


Adjusting the weight of variables for algorithms used in criminal justice could be promising, or problematic.

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Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer, originally featured on cincinnati.com)

At the conclusion of the 2019 calendar year, Jeff Pastor, Councilman for the City of Cincinnati, Ohio, called for a sweeping review of the city’s racial disparities in policing. Pastor implored the City for an evaluation in the wake of a much publicized report conducted by The Stanford Open Policing Project. The report found significant discrepancies in traffic stops in the city, including a finding that “Cincinnati police make 120% more total stops per resident in predominantly black neighborhoods than white ones.”

The call for review reinvigorated debate among both police accountability activists and public policy circles alike. A chief…

Jonathan Hofer

Public Policy Research Associate| Ad hoc consultant| Former Comparative Political Economy Researcher| Oakland, CA. B.A Political Science, UC Berkeley

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