CLBR Featured Segment: Frank Pasquale on the Black Box Society

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Frank Pasquale on the Black Box Society

Every day, corporations are connecting the dots about our personal behavior—silently scrutinizing clues left behind by our work habits and Internet use. The data compiled and portraits created are incredibly detailed, to the point of being invasive. But who connects the dots about what firms are doing with this information? The Black Box Society argues that we all need to be able to do so—and to set limits on how big data affects our lives.

Hidden algorithms can make (or ruin) reputations, decide the destiny of entrepreneurs, or even devastate an entire economy. Shrouded in secrecy and complexity, decisions at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms were long assumed to be neutral and technical. But leaks, whistleblowers, and legal disputes have shed new light on automated judgment. Self-serving and reckless behavior is surprisingly common, and easy to hide in code protected by legal and real secrecy. Even after billions of dollars of fines have been levied, underfunded regulators may have only scratched the surface of this troubling behavior.

Maryland Carey Law Professor Frank Pasquale exposes how powerful interests abuse secrecy for profit and explains ways to rein them in. Demanding transparency is only the first step. An intelligible society would assure that key decisions of its most important firms are fair, nondiscriminatory, and open to criticism. Silicon Valley and Wall Street need to accept as much accountability as they impose on other.

About Frank Pasquale

Frank Pasquale’s research addresses the challenges posed to information law by rapidly changing technology, particularly in the health care, internet, and finance industries. He is a member of the NSF-funded Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society, and an Affiliate Fellow of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.  He frequently presents on the ethical, legal, and social implications of information technology for attorneys, physicians, and other health professionals. His book  The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015) develops a social theory of reputation, search, and finance.

Pasquale has been a Visiting Fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology, and a Visiting Professor at Yale Law School and Cardozo Law School. He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University. He has testified before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, appearing with the General Counsels of Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. He has also presented before a Department of Health & Human Services/Federal Trade Commission Roundtable and panels of the National Academy of Sciences. He served on an American Academy of Arts and Sciences working group on the future of mobile health (mHealth) regulation.  He has received a commission from Triple Canopy to write and present on the political economy of automation.

Pasquale serves on the Advisory Boards of the Data Competition Institute, Patient Privacy Rights and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He is is on the editorial boards of theJournal of Legal Education and the Oxford Handbooks Online in Law. He has served on the executive board of the Health Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), and has served as chair of the AALS section on Privacy and Defamation. He has been quoted in the Financial Times, New York Times, Economist, CNN, and many other media outlets.

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About UMd Carey School of Law

The University of Maryland is among the leading law schools today in terms of thought leadership on issue affecting cyber law and policy.  It is the third-oldest law school in the country as is housed in the Nathan Patz Law Center, is a state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2002.

Unlike the undergraduate program, which is located in the Washington suburb of College Park, UMd Law is located in downtown Baltimore.


Past Notable Maryland Guests

Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler

Former Maryland Congressman and Olympian Tom McMillen

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