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251, Privacy in the digital age

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Julia Nicodemus

on 12 September 2016

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Transcript of 251, Privacy in the digital age

How can you apply what we've discussed so far about public policy to todays reading on digital privacy policy? Consider: policy capacity, the roles of the branches of government, the challenge of responding to complex technological problems, rationales for policy making, etc.
Theories for Understanding Public Policy
How can we understand things like what issues get attention, which policies get adapted, and what factors have the biggest influence on policymaking?
Rational Choice
Political Systems
Values and preferences of a small, unrepresentative group of people have significantly more influence on public policy than those of the general public
This theory focuses on the role of leaders (by power, $, knowledge)
The "elite" may vary by issue or policy area
Society may not be as democratic as we'd like
Public policy is the result of a continuous struggle between opposing interest groups, and power is widely shared among these groups
Different groups balance each other out
Policy changes over time as each coalition uses its resources to change the views or policy beliefs of leading policy actors.
Criticized for not giving adequate weight to role of leaders and policymakers
Emphasizes how the structure of government and the formal and legal aspects of policy making affect in the kinds of policy process that occur and which policy actors are influential.
The fact that all states have 2 senators changes importance of policies affecting rural states
Formal analysis this way is complex, but it’s useful to emphasize how government structures influence policymaking
Ability to filibuster changes dynamics in senate
assumes that in making decisions, individuals are rational actors that seek to maximize attainment of their preferences or further their self-interests
Draws on economic theory, is complex and mathematical
Useful to think about core motivation of decision makers
Doesn't capture all complications - it depends on people having perfect information, which they don't
Emphasizes the larger social, economic, and cultural context in which political decisions and policy choices are made (inputs, demands, policy outputs, outcomes, feedback)
More comprehensive and general than other theories
Decision making is part of a system, which changes with new policies, creating new demands
Theories Activity
You'll break into 5 groups of 2-3 people per group, and each group will be assigned one of the 5 theories that help us understand policymaking. In your group you'll discuss a particular policy response (action or inaction) in terms of that theory.
Elite Theory
Passage of TARP
Group Theory
Failure of SOPA/PIPA
Institutional Theory
Failure of Climate Bill
Rational Choice Theory
Oil Industry Subsidies
Political Systems Theory
CAFE standards for cars
You'll break into 5 groups of ~5 people per group, and each group will be assigned one of the 5 theories that help us understand policymaking. In your group you will...
Political System
policy outputs
policy outcomes
Privacy in the Digital Age
Theories of Public Policy
Policies that Protect Our Privacy (or Don't)
The Current Law:
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986
Major Issues with ECPA
Law balances privacy and security for existing technologies
Technology advances and law is no longer sufficient
Courts try to interpret law, but it's messy
General History
Electronic Surveillance Law
Enacted to address changing technology with the advent of the internet. Goal was to extend requirement of warrants to email.
So what's the problem??
Only protects emails on servers for 180 days
Doesn't protect documents on servers ("the cloud")
Doesn't address use of cell phone data to track location
No clear policy on social network data
Blanket subpoenas on all people accessing a particular (legal) website
In what ways do you agree or disagree with his arguments? Do you think the situation he describes constitutes a public problem? Why or why not?

Electronic surveillance by the government is not the only way that your digital privacy might be invaded. What are other ways?
The Fourth Amendment
to the Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Discuss the theory you've been assigned. Make sure everyone understands it. Think about how to explain it to the rest of the class.
Can your assigned theory help make sense of digital privacy policy? What about climate change policy (this could be lack of comprehensive action or existing policies that promote green energy or sustainability). If neither of these two seem to fit your theory, can you think of a good policy that does help illustrate your theory?
In what ways does your theory fall short in explaining this policy?
Present your explanation of the theory and how it can be used to understand these policies in the US to the rest of the class. Your explanation should help other students better understand the theory.
Theories Activity
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