Privacy Laws Should Help, Not Harm, Criminal-Justice Reform
American society urgently needs to address structural disparities in the criminal-justice system. One important disparity—which is both easily mitigated and generally unrecognized—is the asymmetry of information access granted to prosecutors and defendants. Prosecutors can easily access digital records that establish guilt. But defendants are far less empowered to access digital records that prove innocence.
Privacy laws are a key source of this disparity. The Stored Communications Act (SCA), for instance, permits law enforcement—but not defense investigators—to access certain evidence from Internet companies. Fortunately, there are two straightforward policy solutions to this problem. First, new federal privacy legislation should include language requiring symmetric information access for defendants. Second, the Department of Justice should adopt a new interpretation of the SCA to protect fairness in criminal proceedings.
Good data is a critical component of delivering effective government services from local to federal levels. But now, too much useful data lives in a silo.
The authors propose that the White House Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse convene government actors, civil society organizations, and industry representatives to create an Anti-Online Harassment (AOH) Hub to improve and standardize responses to online harassment and to provide evidence-based recommendations to the Task Force.
If the 118th Congress decides to reauthorize the ESRA, ALI urges the HELP committee to strengthen our education system by prioritizing the following policies.
A large portion of gig workers are people of color, and the nature of their temporary and largely unregulated work can leave them vulnerable to economic instability and workplace abuse. To increase protections for fair work, the Department of Labor should create an Office of the Ombudsman for Fair Work.