PUBLISHED:July 18, 2012

Farahany testifies before Senate subcommittee

Duke Law Professor Nita A. Farahany ’04 discussed the impact of new technology on civil liberties during testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 18. Farahany testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, at a hearing titled “What Facial Recognition Technology Means for Privacy and Civil Liberties.”

Farahany, who holds a joint appointment at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, joined the Duke Law faculty from Vanderbilt in 2012. Her research and scholarship focuses on the ethical, legal, and social implications of biosciences and emerging technologies. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and she continues to serve as a member of that commission. 

Farahany’s recent scholarship includes “Searching Secrets,” 160 U. Penn. L. Rev. 1239 (2012) which explores the potential of intellectual property law as a metaphor to describe current Fourth Amendment search and seizure law and predict how the Fourth Amendment will apply to emerging technology.

Farahany discussed the legal and constitutional implications of facial recognition technologies during her testimony. “I hope to show that, as a general matter, law enforcement use of these technologies is not, in itself, a Fourth Amendment search, let alone an unreasonable one,” she said. “Although the Court has not yet addressed facial recognition technology, the doctrine regarding analogous identifying information and ‘open fields’ supports this view.”

Read Farahany's testimony.