A Modern Approach to Privacy Law and Policy

Slides Available Here

Abstract: Legal and institutional frameworks for protecting privacy often rely on ambiguous definitions, ad hoc practices, and limited practical guidance. These factors contribute to inconsistent and potentially insufficient privacy protection over the long term. They also create uncertainty for practitioners seeking to implement emerging privacy-enhancing technologies, including tools that satisfy formal privacy models like differential privacy. To address these challenges, the Privacy Tools Project has led the development of legal and policy tools that are based on modern privacy approaches from law, computer science, and social science. One such tool is a framework for analyzing privacy risks and designing data releases that are tailored to the specific risks and intended uses of the data. Another introduces a novel approach for rigorously demonstrating that the use of a privacy technology, such as differential privacy, is sufficient to satisfy particular legal and policy requirements. Others include educational and policy materials to explain insights from the scientific literature on privacy to policymakers and privacy practitioners and guide future real-world decisions related to the collection, use, and sharing of sensitive data about individuals. 

Bio: Alexandra Wood is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. She contributes legal and policy expertise to the Harvard Privacy Tools project, aiming to advance a multidisciplinary understanding of data privacy and to embed this understanding in new technical and legal tools for responsible data sharing. Her research involves exploring legal and regulatory frameworks for privacy and data protection in light of recent advances in privacy from fields such as computer science, social science, and law. She also contributes to the development of legal instruments to facilitate the sharing and use of research data while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability.