June 16, 2014

On June 16, 2014, CUSP will host a workshop in New York City to discuss the forthcoming book, Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement. The book, edited by Julia Lane, Victoria Stodden, Stefan Bender, and Helen Nissenbaum, will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Privacy concerns over the use of big data for commercial or intelligence purposes are much discussed, yet big data can also be harnessed to serve the public good.  Federal, state, and local governments can better use their data to improve services and reduce taxpayer costs; scientists can use new forms of data to do research that improves people’s lives; and non-profit organizations can use information to advocate for public causes. Concern over privacy and confidentiality issues must be addressed to enable the realization of these beneficial uses of big data.

Authors in this book have provided, for the first time in one place, an accessible summary of the important legal, economic, and statistical thought that frames the many privacy issues associated with the use of big data.  Yet, they also identify practical suggestions for protecting privacy and confidentiality that can help guide practitioners.

More information on the book is available here.


8:00 AM           Registration opens

8:30 AM           Welcome & Introduction.  Steve Koonin

8:45 AM           Editor’s Panel:  Julia Lane, Victoria Stodden, Stefan Bender, Helen Nissenbaum

9:15 AM           I.  Law, Ethics, & Economics of Big Data.

Moderator: Jake Bournazian (5 minutes)

                            Panel: Helen Nissenbaum, Kathy Strandburg, Victoria Stodden

                            Q&A (35 minutes led by moderator, 20 minutes with audience)

What concepts used in our traditional discussions of privacy, such as anonymity and informed consent, require updating in response to the challenges of big data? How should we now understand and assess harms from privacy violations? What established approaches to managing privacy must we rethink in the big data context?

10:15 AM         Break       

10:30 AM         II.  Practical Concerns of Working with Big Data.

Moderator: Julia Lane (5 minutes)

                            Panel: Bob Goerge, Dazza Greenwood, Carl Landwehr

Q&A (35 minutes led by moderator, 20 minutes with audience)

Big data can also be harnessed to serve the public good: scientists can use big data to do research that improves the lives of human beings, improve government services and reduce taxpayer costs.  Does “big data” change the rules of engagement regarding privacy protection?  What are the best ways to provide access while protecting confidentiality? Are there reasonable mechanisms to compensate citizens for privacy loss?

11:30 AM         III.  Statistical framework: The Issues & Practical responses.

Moderator: Stefan Bender (5 minutes)

                            Panel: Frauke Kreuter, Jerry Reiter, Peter Elias

Q&A (35 minutes led by moderator, 20 minutes with audience)

Since neither the data generating process nor the data collection process is well understood for big data, what can statistics tell us about how to make greatest scientific use of this data while simultaneously quantifying the extent of privacy loss? What will be needed to develop standards of transparency in the collection of data? What is needed to evaluate the quality of the linked sources? Should the fact that big data is too big to take to the users change our consideration of protection strategies?

12:30 PM         Lunch

Capstone speaker: Theresa Pardo (25 minutes)

1:30 PM            Adjourn

CUSP is the primary sponsor of the book. Additional sponsors include the American Statistical Association and its Privacy and Confidentiality subcommittee, as well the Research Data Centre of the German Federal Employment Agency.