Integrating Approaches to Privacy across the Research Lifecycle

Fall 2013 Workshop (September 24th and 25th — By invitation only)

The science of understanding human behavior, health, and interactions is being transformed by the ability of researchers to collect, analyze, and share data about individuals on a wide scale. However, a major challenge for realizing the full potential of such data science is ensuring the privacy of the data subjects. And as new demonstrations and methods of re-identification continue to emerge, traditional approaches to protecting privacy are becoming decreasingly effective.

This workshop will consider how emerging tools and perspectives from a variety of disciplines, such as computer science, social science, law, and the health sciences, should be integrated in the management of confidential research data. Multidisciplinary discussion groups will grapple with these issues in the context of exemplar research use cases. The end product of the workshop will be a succinct report summarizing the tools and use cases discussed, and mapping out, at a high level, a research agenda to advance the management of confidential research data. 

This workshop is being organized by an NSF-funded project "Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data" at Harvard University (, in collaboration with the Reliable Information Systems and Cyber Security (RISCS) Center at Boston University (

Wasserstein Hall, Room 3019, Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Agenda: (may be subject to change)

  • Tuesday, Sept. 24th
    • 2:30pm - 2:45pm Welcome/opening remarks (Salil Vadhan) [Room 3019]
    • 2:45pm - 3:00pm Introduction to use cases and data lifecycle (Micah Altman)
    • 3:00pm - 4:00pm Level-setting talks
        • "Re-Identification and Risk Assessment" (Latanya Sweeney)
        • "Statistical Disclosure Limitations" (Aleksandra Slavković)
        • "Differential Privacy" (Jonathan Ullman)
    • 4:00pm - 4:20pm Coffee break
    • 4:20pm - 5:00pm Level-setting talks (cont.)
        • "Legal Approaches" (Felix Wu)
        • "Examples from Harvard Project" (Mercè Crosas and David O'Brien)
    • 5:00pm - 6:00pm Lightning talks
        • John Abowd, Robert Gellman, Raquel Hill, Greta Lee Splansky, John Wilbanks
    • 6:30pm - 7:30pm Cocktails [Harvard Faculty Club, 2nd Floor, Library]
    • 7:30pm - 10:00pm Dinner [Harvard Faculty Club, 2nd Floor, Library]
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25th
    • 8:30am - 9:00am Breakfast [Room 3019]
    • 9:00am - 12:00pm Breakout discussions on use cases [Room 3011, -12, -13]
        • Computational Social Science (CSS)  [Room 3011]
            • Moderators: Cynthia Dwork and Micah Altman
        • Journal Replication Policy (JRP) [Room 3012]
            • Moderators: Peter Suber and Mercè Crosas
        • Long-term Longitudinal Study (LLS) [Room 3013]
            • Moderators: Alan Karr and Urs Gasser
    • 12:00pm - 1:30pm Lunch
    • 1:30pm - 3:00pm Summative remarks from breakout leaders [Room 3019]
    • 3:00pm - 3:30pm Coffee break
    • 3:30pm - 4:30pm Topical breakout discussions [Room 3011, -12, -13]
    • 4:30pm - 5:00pm Light refreshments [Room 3019]

Workshop Materials (Link also on right side of page)

Walking Directions to Dinner:
Getting from Wasserstein Hall to the Harvard Faculty Club

If you will be driving to the workshop, please send your license plate number and state to Michael Wojcik <> as soon as possible.

For non-local participants:
Please contact Michael Wojcik <> for assistance with travel arrangements.