Live-streaming crime — how will Facebook Live and Periscope challenge US privacy law?

From Lehigh University:

In July, the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling–a black man in Louisiana–and Philando Castile–a black man in Minnesota–went viral on social media. The aftermath of the Castile shooting was first shared via Facebook Live, which is a type of mobile streaming video technology (MSVT) that allows users to stream live video to followers, similar to Periscope and Meerkat.

The real-time video of Castile’s death reached over 5 million people within a week of its posting.

In a new study, Up, Periscope: Mobile Streaming Video Technologies, Privacy in Public, and the Right to Record , Jeremy Littau, assistant professor of journalism at Lehigh University, and Daxton Stewart, associate dean and associate professor in the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at Texas Christian University, examine the legal rights of people to record and live stream and any potential right to be free from being recorded and streamed in public places.

The authors find that current laws protecting individual rights are insufficient to protect privacy when it comes to these technologies and that the First Amendment likely protects livestreaming activities of users.

“The Castile shooting is important not only for its content, but also because a Facebook user showed the public a new tool that it might not otherwise have known about or thought to use in a situation like this,” Littau says.

He adds: “What happened in Minnesota is one of those incidents that serve as a harbinger for what is to come.”

Because of the ease with which users are able to share live video streams, MSVTs have great potential to catalyze new privacy laws and policies, as legislatures, courts, citizens, and tech companies consider the balance between peoples individual’s right to privacy and the public’s right to free expression.

Littau says that mobile streaming technologies …

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