North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

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Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Bulk Biometric Metadata Collection

June 1, 2018

96 N.C. L. Rev. 1425 (2018) 

 

 

Smart police body cameras and smart glasses worn by law enforcement increasingly reflect state-of-the-art surveillance technology, such as the integration of live-streaming video with facial recognition and artificial intelligence tools, including automated analytics. This Article explores how these emerging cybersurveillance technologies risk the potential for bulk biometric metadata collection. Such collection is likely to fall outside the scope of the types of bulk metadata collection protections regulated by the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015. The USA FREEDOM Act was intended to bring the practice of bulk telephony metadata collection conducted by the National Security Agency (“NSA”) under tighter regulation. In the wake of the disclosures by Edward Snowden in June 2013, members of Congress called for statutory reform to eliminate or significantly curtail indiscriminate metadata surveillance of United States citizens. The Snowden revelations illuminated that the bulk telephony metadata collection program had been legally justified under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. This Article contends that the USA FREEDOM Act, which amended Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, does not restrict other types of non-telephony bulk metadata collection. This Article concludes that, rather than more tightly regulating metadata surveillance, the Act allows for metadata surveillance to proceed under differing justifications and in more delegated contexts. The potential of ubiquitous and continuous data collection and analysis that may stem from smart body cameras or smart glasses worn by law enforcement offers an important case study on why the USA FREEDOM Act is unable to regulate bulk biometric metadata collection.

 

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