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Doaa Abu Elyounes
S.J.D. 2021

Graduate Program Fellow
dabuelyounes at


Policing and Prosecution in the Era of Big Data

Every object around us, from the cameras on the street to our credit cards and smartphones, is collecting information. This is the era of big data. Big data is big in terms of its quantity and variety, and in terms of the scale of analysis that can be applied to it in order to make inferences and draw conclusions. As in other areas of digitization, when big data meets criminal law enforcement, it can cause controversy. Access to more data improves our ability to make connections, detect patterns, and prevent and solve crimes. But, if data miners are not careful, that sorting might create disproportionately adverse results, reinforce systemic problems and create new ones.

In order to examine the role that big data plays in the enforcement of criminal law, I will analyze some of the big data practices that law enforcement agencies are using; such as predictive policing, social media surveillance, and court predictive algorithms. These practices, both individually and together, have inherently changed the collection of evidence, altered investigation methods, and raised questions related to privacy, prevention, and legal forensics techniques. However, the rules that regularize the use of big data are very dark, broad and not clear. My thesis is that, while big data provides unlimited opportunities and techniques to collect information, not all of these should or need to be applied to all categories of crimes in the same way. We cannot treat terror in the same way we deal with drug possession for personal use; we cannot address a child’s kidnapping in the same way we address exceeding the speed limit.  A more neatly-tailored system is needed.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Cyber Law and Policy; Internet Architecture and Privacy with Professor Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Changes in the Criminal Law System Associated with Big Data with Professor Carol Steiker, Harvard Law School
  • Algorithmic Law Enforcement and Internet Governance with Professor Niva Elkin-Coren, University of Haifa Faculty of Law

Additional Research Interests

  • Cyber Law
  • Big Data
  • Machine Learning and Algorithmic Decision Making
  • Internet Governance
  • Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D., 2021
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M., 2015-2016 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • University of Haifa, Faculty of Law, Israel, LL.M. in Law and Technology, 2011-2012
  • University of Haifa, Faculty of Law, Israel, LL.B., 2008-2012

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Law School, 2016-2017, Graduate Program Fellow
  • Harvard Law School, 2015-2016, Fulbright Grantee
  • University of Haifa, 2012, Daughters for Life Award for Academic Achievements
  • University of Haifa, 2011, Justice Yizhak Samir Award for Oustanding Social and Acemic Performance

Representative Publications

  • Abu Elyounes, “Amendment no. 8 of the Cooperative Associations Act – More Proportional Alternatives”, He-arat Din 6(2), 2013 (Hebrew)

Additional Information

Languages: English, Arabic and Hebrew (fluent), French (basic)

Last Updated: March 23, 2017