Policy Engagement and Commentary

As part of the Privacy Tools project's commitment to outreach, the team contributes to interdisciplinary publications, workshops, presentations, and symposia focused on bridging legal and mathematical definitions of privacy and/or influencing policy processes regarding privacy. These efforts aim to build knowledge on the relation between mathematical and legal notions of privacy, develop proposals to bridge the gap between them, and engagement with or impact the policy processes for revising privacy law and regulation.

The project's policy engagement efforts aim both to:
Increase impact of research by adapting and disseminating advances in research and practice for diverse stakeholder
Increase relevance of tools by informing identification, description, and selection of target use cases

Policy Engagement

Policy Commentary

2016 Submitted Comments
 
  • Members of the project team (PI Salil Vadhan, Co-PI Edo Airoldi, Co-PI Urs Gasser, Co-Investigator Micah Altman, Research Fellow Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Sr. Researcher David R. O'Brien, and Research Fellow Alexandra Wood) submitted comments on the Proposed Rules to Revise the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects ("Common Rule"), HHS-OPHS-2015-0008 (January 6, 2016). This commentary is available at http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=HHS-OPHS-2015-0008-2015 
 
2014 Submitted Comments
 
 
2013 Submitted Comments
 
  • M. Altman, M. Crosas, et al.,on behalf on DataPASS, “Response to the National Institute of Health Request Information: Input on Development of NIH Data Catalog". 2013.  PDF version of comments

 

Contributions to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Co-PI Latanya Sweeney joined the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as Chief Technologist in January 2014. She advised the agency on evolving technology and policy issues and participated in FTC enforcement and policy functions. In appointing Sweeney to this position, the FTC recognized her groundbreaking work in several areas, including the anonymization of sensitive consumer information and privacy technology, and the agency seeks her contributions on efforts to protect consumers and promote competition. The FTC also allowed Co-PI Sweeney to blog about technology issues related to the FTC (Tech@FTC) and many of these blog posts have ignited research in computer science and social science.

These blog posts include:


The FTC also launched a new summer fellows program, aimed at training existing students to better study and address technology society clashes, including privacy. The announcement of the Summer Fellowship program appeared on the Tech@FTC blog, Save the World (April 17, 2014). Hundreds of applicants applied. There was  a workshop at the end of summer 2014 to report on student work and to bring together researchers working in related areas of the earlier blog posts.

Invitational Presentations, Conferences, & Symposia

2015

  • Co-PI Urs Gasser, Co-PI Micah Altman, Senior Researcher David O’Brien, and Berkman Fellow Alexandra Wood will serve on a panel at the 19th Annual BCLT/BTLJ Symposium: Open Data: Addressing Policy, Security and Civil Rights Challenges on Friday, April 17, 2015.
  • PI Salil Vadhan and collaborator Cynthia Dwork organized a symposium on differential privacy, aimed at the scientific public, policy makers, and the press, at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting, on February 12-16, in San Jose, California.
  • Visiting Scholars Adam Smith and Sofya Raskhodnikova presented at the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting, on February 12-16, in San Jose, California. This symposium on differential privacy was aimed at the scientific public, policy makers, and the press.
  • The Privacy Tools Project served as the Symposium Planning Committee in the development and planning of the IACS Symposium, Privacy in a Networked World, on Friday, January 23rd, 2015 in Cambridge, MA. The symposium attracted press with speakers  Edward Snowden, Bruce Schneier, John DeLong, John Wilbanks, Lee Rainie, and Privacy Tools Collaborator Cynthia Dwork.

2014

  • Co-PIs Gasser and Sweeney and collaborator Dwork participated in the Privacy Law Scholars Conference, UC Berkeley Law School & GWU Law School in Washington, DC.
  • Salil Vadhan presented "Current developments in differential privacy" at the White House–MIT Big Data Privacy Workshop, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Cynthia Dwork presented "State of the Art of Privacy Protection" at the White House–MIT Big Data Privacy Workshop at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Cynthia Dwork presented "Roundtable Discussion of Big Data Governance" at the White House–UC Berkeley “Big Data: Values and Governance” Workshop, at UC Berkeley.
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney presented "Roundtable Discussion of Large Scale Analytics Case Study" at the White House–MIT Big Data Privacy Workshop, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney presented "Transparency Builds Trust" at the White House–NYU Information Law Institute Workshop on “The Social, Cultural, & Ethical Dimensions of ‘Big Data’” at NYU School of Law.
  • Senior Research Fellow O’Brien presented at the Data and Development Workshop, Hivos, Cambridge, MA.
  • Merce Crosas presented "Data Publishing while Preserving Data Privacy. 5R: Innovative Approaches to Promoting Transparency in Research," at IASSIST 40th Anniversary Conference in Toronto, Canada.
  • Project participants gave invited presentations or were on panels at all three Big Data and Privacy workshops that were part of President Obama’s 90-day Study led by John Podesta.
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney was a keynote speaker at the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, in Seattle, Washington
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney gave an invited presentation at the Institute of Medicine, Washington DC.
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney gave an invited presentation at the annual meeting of the AAAS, in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Co-PI Micah Altman participated as an invited speaker at the “Governance for Private Data Stores”, Cambridge, MA
  • Co-PI Micah Altman participated in an invited panel on “Big Data Research and Policy Making” at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington DC
  • Co-PI Latanya Sweeney gave an invited presentation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington DC
  • Co-PI Urs Gasser was the invited keynote speaker on “Internet, Education, and Privacy” at PAÍS DIGITAL in Santiago de Chile
  • Co-PI Urs Gasser served as invited keynote speaker on “Shifts in Higher Ed, Cloud, and Student Privacy” at EDUTIC in Santiago de Chile
  • Co-PI Urs Gasser served as invited keynote speaker on “Shifts in Higher Ed, Cloud, and Student Privacy” at EDUTIC in Santiago de Chile;
  • Co-PI Urs Gasser delivered a seminar at the Chilean University Faculty of Law on privacy principles, youth, social media, and privacy in education
  • Co-PI Urs Gasser participated in a panel titled “The Evolution of Privacy Norms— Looking Ahead” hosted by the Chilean University Faculty of Law
  • Research fellow O’Brien presented at the Data and Development Workshop, Hivos, Cambridge, MA
  • Co-PI Altman participated as an invited speaker at the “Berkman Data & Development Workshop”, Cambridge, MA

2013

  • Co-PI Micah Altman provided oral commentary (recorded) on limits of HIPAA approach to privacy at the Public Workshop on Revisions to the Common Rule, National Academies.
  • Co-PI Micah Altman & Merce Crosas submitted written testimony including approaches to management of privacy for data sharing to Public Access to Federally Supported Research and Development Data, a workshop held by the National Academies.
  • Dwork organized and Vadhan participated in a roundtable on Differential Privacy and Law and Policy, held at Cardozo Law School, and much of the discussion centered around our project's comments on the revision of the Common Rule (“Comments on Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Human Subjects Research Protections: Enhancing Protections for Research Subjects and Reducing Burden, Delay, and Ambiguity for Investigators, Docket ID number HHSOPHS20110005”, 2011, authored by project participants Vadhan, Abrams, Altman, Dwork, and Ullman, among others).
  • Co-PI Micah Altman presented “Lifecycle Approach to Information Privacy” in a workshop on Differential Privacy and Economics and the Social Sciences at the Simons Foundation
  • Co-PI Micah Altman presented “Connecting Research, Publications, and Evidence: The Lifecycle and Institutional Ecology of Data” at the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Dwork, Sweeney, & Vadhan were invited to & participated in the annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference, run by George Washington Law School and Berkeley Law. At the meeting, Sweeney workshopped her paper "Discrimination in Online Ad Delivery." This paper was covered by numerous leading media outlets worldwide, began an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and prompted Google to reconsider its policies on advertisement.