Privacy as Privilege

Berkeley Computational Social Science Forum

CSS Training Program

March 1, 2022
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Virtual Participation


Berkeley Computational Social Science Forum
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Time: 4:00-5:00 PM Pacific Time
Location: Virtual Participation – Register to attend via Zoom

Privacy as Privilege 

Rebecca Wexler, Assistant Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
This talk exposes a profound and growing injustice that major technology companies have propagated through every level of the judiciary under the guise of protecting data privacy. The Supreme Court has repeatedly proclaimed: “In our judicial system, the public has a right to every [person’s] evidence.” Yet, for over a decade, Facebook, GitHub, Google, Instagram, Microsoft, and Twitter have leveraged the Stored Communications Act (SCA) — a key data privacy law for the internet — to bar criminal defendants from subpoenaing the contents of another’s online communications, even when those communications could exonerate the wrongfully accused. I will argue that all of these decisions are wrong as a matter of binding Supreme Court doctrine and just policy.

The Computational Social Science Forum is an informal setting for the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and scholarship at the intersection of social science and data science. Participants engage in a variety of activities such as presentations of work in progress, discussions and critiques of recent papers, introductions to new tools and methods, discussions around ethics, fairness, inequality, and responsible conduct of research, as well as professional development. This Forum is organized as part of the Computational Social Science Training Program, and weekly meetings are hosted by researchers from BIDS and D-Lab. The group welcomes social scientists and researchers with interests in data science methods and tools, and data scientists with applications or interests in public policy, social, behavioral, and health sciences. Participants include graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty, and members are encouraged to attend regularly in order to foster community around improving computational social science research, supporting the development and research of group members, and fostering new collaborations. Interested UC Berkeley community members are invited to use this registration form to receive the schedule and access links. Please contact for more information or if you are interested in presenting current research for an upcoming session.


Rebecca Wexler

Assistant Professor of Law, Berkeley School of Law

Rebecca Wexler is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she teaches, researches, and writes on issues concerning data, technology, and criminal justice. Her work has focused on evidence law, criminal procedure, privacy, and intellectual property protections surrounding new data-driven criminal justice technologies. She is also a Faculty Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. 

Professor Wexler’s research includes Life Liberty and Trade Secrets: Intellectual Property in the Criminal Justice System, The Stanford Law Review (2018); Technology’s Continuum: Body Cameras, Data Collection, and Constitutional Searches, in Visual Imagery and Human Rights Practice (2018); Gags as Guidance: Expanding Notice of National Security Letter Investigations to Targets and the Public, The Berkeley Technology Law Journal (2016); The Private Life of DRM: How Fundamental Rights Frame Copyright Enforcement Reform, The Yale Journal of Law & Technology (2015); and Warrant Canaries and Disclosure by Design: The Real Threat to National Security Letter Gag Orders, The Yale Law Journal Forum (2014). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The LA Times, Washington Monthly, Slate, and has been featured on NPR.