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[liberationtech] CFP: Visual Data as Accountability, Resistance, and Surveillance

Bryce C Newell bcnewell at
Mon Jun 27 07:42:55 PDT 2016

*(with apologies for cross-posting)*

*Call for Papers (abstracts due August 10, 2016)*

*Visual Data as Accountability, Resistance, and Surveillance*
For a special issue of *Law & Social Inquiry* (Journal links: Wiley
<> *|* American
Bar Foundation

Edited by: Sarah Brayne (UT-Austin), Karen E. C. Levy (Cornell), and Bryce
Clayton Newell (Tilburg)


The capture, analysis, and dissemination of visual data—including video
(with or without audio), photographs, and other visual recordings—has
become ubiquitous. Facilitated by digitization, globalization, and the
proliferation of mobile media, visual data is transforming the
documentation of activities in a wide range of contexts, including
policing, legal adjudication, war, human rights struggles, and civic
action. Visual data is being collected by state actors and individual
citizens, each often documenting the actions of the other. The use of this
data as evidence (both inside and outside formal legal proceedings) raises
significant issues related to privacy and ethics, authentication and
credibility, interpretation, inequality, power, and legibility. Law is
implicated at both the point of recording (or documentation) and during
downstream activities, such as when recordings are shared or posted online,
publicly disclosed under freedom of information laws, or introduced into
evidence during legal proceedings.

Different technologies afford different viewpoints. Visual data constitutes
a unique form of information that presents emergent legal and policy
questions because of its technical form and social effects. The
mobilization of visual data can shape and reshape public opinion,
representation, suppression, visibility, inequality, and admissibility of
evidence; it can serve to incriminate or exonerate. Visual evidence can
legitimize certain accounts of events while calling others into question.
And, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, more people can capture
video and photographs than ever before, at a moment’s notice, simply by
pulling out their phones—and can distribute them instantaneously, creating
visual records of all types of behaviors and conflicts, from confrontations
between citizens and police to political gaffes, from sex tapes to
dashboard camera footage of traffic-related events. The recent adoption of
police body cameras and the use of video by bystanders as a tool for
inverse surveillance demonstrate our increasing reliance on video as a
check on power, as well as a source of ostensible authority when accounts
about “what really happened” are in conflict. At the same time, the crucial
role of interpretation suggests video is not as much of an “objective
observer” or independent witness as it is sometimes claimed to be, and
visual evidence may have unforeseen implications for weighing evidence in
civil or criminal cases—or in the court of public opinion.

Permissive freedom of information laws in some jurisdictions have also led
to recordings made by the police ending up on websites like
YouTube—alongside myriad channels of police misconduct videos filmed by
citizens. All of this footage increases the secondary visibility of those
captured in recordings, and the video itself can also be analyzed as
(potentially) a new form of big data. Audio and video streams contain
biometric information that can be detected, analyzed, and compared against
existing databases—while also adding new data to these databases in the

The creation, dissemination, mediation, interpretation, and quantification
of visual data are all fundamentally social processes. From citizen video
of police (mis)conduct to the visual documentation of human rights abuses,
the process of transforming material experience into digital evidence can
facilitate accountability or resistance. These citizen-led forms of
surveillance also function as forms of resistance to more panoptic forms of
state-sponsored video collection and surveillance (e.g. camera-enabled
drones, CCTV cameras). On the other hand, police-worn body cameras also act
as an accountability mechanism, even though they face away from officers
and collect evidence about—and document the conduct of—civilians. These
forms of mobile, user-controlled cameras significantly alter earlier
reliance on more static and passive video collection.

As technological developments far outpace empirical research on—and legal
regulation of—visual data, this special paper symposium in Law & Social
Inquiry will provide an opportunity to highlight new empirical work with
connections to law and policy, serve as a venue to build theory about a
rapidly changing subject, and showcase research relevant to a variety of
stakeholders—including lawyers, judges, law enforcement, legislators and
policymakers, activists and civil and human rights organizations,
technologists, and academics in a variety of fields.

We welcome contributions that present original empirical research; offer
conceptual, critical, or theoretical analyses; or address the unique legal,
ethical, and policy questions implicated by visual documentation. We
welcome scholarly contributions that come from—or that cross—academic
disciplines such as sociology, law, information science, anthropology,
science and technology studies, criminology, geography, communications and
media studies, and computer science.

*We encourage submissions addressing (but not limited to) such subjects as:*

   - Body-worn cameras, dashcams, policing practices
   - Citizen video/video as human rights advocacy
   - Covert and overt recording
   - Video as surveillance and sousveillance
   - Resistance to and avoidance of audio or visual surveillance
   - Design and regulation of audio or visual surveillance systems
   - Unanticipated consequences of audio or visual records
   - Use and interpretation of audio or video as evidence in legal
   - Data storage, access, and retention policies
   - Algorithmic practices of metadata extraction from video content
   - Image processing
   - Technical means of privacy preservation and authentication
   - Audio and video analytics and forensics
   - Audio and video redaction and privacy concerns
   - Live streaming
   - Video/audio and public opinion
   - Voyeurism, victimhood, and the ethics of viewing
   - Affective aspects of video
   - Embedding human values into the design of video-related technologies
   or systems (e.g. value sensitive design or privacy by design)
   - Implications for inequality
   - Facial recognition or other forms of biometrics enabled by audio or
   visual documentation and recording

*Deadlines and anticipated timeline:*

*Initial abstract submission deadline (~ 500 words): August 10, 2016  *
   - Authors notified of (tentative) acceptance: August 30, 2016
   - Full papers due (based on accepted abstracts): December 1, 2016
   - Papers sent out for peer-review: mid-December, 2016
   - Reviews returned to authors (with editorial decisions): expected,
   Feb.-Mar. 2017
   - Publication in 2017

*Specifics about submissions:*
Initial abstracts should contain approximately 500 words. Subsequent full
paper submissions should contain fewer than 10,000 words (including
footnotes and citations), and should contain a 200-word abstract and
biographical information about the authors on a cover page. Invited full
paper submissions will undergo formal double-blind peer review, which is
expected to take between 1 and 3 months (submissions that are not selected
for peer-review will be released back to the authors quickly). All
submissions should be submitted in editable Word (*.doc/x) or *.rtf
formats, and should adhere to the formatting and citation requirements of
Law & Social Inquiry (available at

All submissions should be sent to the editors via email to
LSIvisualdataspecialissue at Please do not submit to this special
call via the regular Law & Social Inquiry journal submission portal.

Additional questions may be sent to the editors at the same address.

*Bryce Clayton Newell, Ph.D., J.D.*
Post-Doctoral Researcher
Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)
Tilburg University, Faculty of Law
b.c.newell at | SSRN <> | @newmedialaw
<> |
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