Third Year Student Tara Melancon’s Law Review Article Garners National Attention

An article written by Tara Melancon, SULC 3-L, is garnering national attention before it even appears in print. The article, “Alexa, Pick an Amendment: A Comparison of Fourth and First Amendment Protections of Echo Device Data,” will appear in Volume 45 of the Southern University Law Review. Pending publication by the Law Review, the article was published online with the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN), and was one of the top 10 papers downloaded from SSRN in numerous categories, including criminal procedure and legal anthropology. That led to recognition in The Crime Report, a multimedia information and networking resource based at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  The Crime Report provided a synopsis of the article titled, “Can Alexa Testify Against You?.” The article has also been linked on the websites of NewsChest Technology and The National Federal Defense Group, an Atlanta, Ga., lawfirm. Professors Shenequa Grey and Latisha Nixon-Jones were Melancon’s faculty advisers for the paper. Professor Gail Stephenson, adviser to the Law Review, stated, “I encourage the Law Review students to write on current topics, as excellent articles like Ms. Melancon’s on hot-button issues bring positive recognition to the Law Center.”

Ms. Melancon had this to say about her topic: “There were 10,000 Alexa skills a year ago and now there are over 25,000.  Alexa technology  is now being integrated into our appliances and vehicles. If we don’t constitutionally slay this beast now, refusing to allow the admissibility of this mammoth mosaic mound of personal data, our persons, houses, papers, and effects will be laid bare for the government’s taking. The alternative is to boycott the devices that could potentially make our lives easier―a First Amendment violation in itself. Who wants that?”