Mine Data Not Details

Wired News is carrying an AP report of the workshop on the Data Surveillance and Privacy Protection I attended at Harvard University’s Center for Research on Computation and Society a few weeks ago, where a common theme was coming up with ways to ensure that law enforcement, intelligence agencies and private companies can sift through huge databases without seeing names and identifying details in the records. It is a nice synopsis, and mentions the amazing work of Latanya Sweeney of Carnegie Mellon University (who has shown that 87 percent of Americans can be personally identified by records listing only their birth date, gender and ZIP code) as well as Rebecca Wright’s update on the progress of the PORTIA (Privacy, Obligations and Rights in Technologies of Information Assessment) project, of which I’m affiliated.

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