Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: Twitter, Facial Recognition and the First Amendment

Jen Patja, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Jameel Jaffer, Ramya Krishnan
Thursday, April 15, 2021, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

This week on Arbiters of Truth, the Lawfare Podcast’s miniseries on our online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Jameel Jaffer and Ramya Krishnan of the Knight First Amendment Institute.

What do facial recognition software and President Trump’s erstwhile Twitter habits have in common? They both implicate the First Amendment—and hint at how old doctrines struggle to adapt to new technologies.

Evelyn and Quinta talked to Jameel and Ramya about the long-running lawsuit by the Knight Foundation over whether it violates the First Amendment for the president to block people on Twitter—a lawsuit that the Supreme Court just ended. They also asked Ramya and Jameel about the controversial facial recognition startup Clearview AI, in light of recent reporting showing just how much law enforcement uses that technology. Clearview is now confronting multiple lawsuits on the grounds that the company’s practices violate privacy laws, and its defense is that its activities are protected by the First Amendment. These cases don’t neatly fit into existing First Amendment categories, so Evelyn and Quinta asked Jameel and Ramya about the possible paths the law might take to adjust to the digital age.

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Jameel Jaffer is the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Prior to joining the Knight Institute, he was deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, where he oversaw the ACLU’s work relating to free speech, privacy, technology, national security, and international human rights.
Ramya Krishnan is a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, specializing in issues related to government transparency, protest, privacy, and social media.

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