Latanya Sweeney: "Integrating Technology and Policy"


Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Maxwell Dworkin 119

CRCS Privacy and Security Lunch Seminar

Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Time: 12:00pm-1:30 pm
Place: Maxwell Dworkin 119

Topic: Integrating Technology and Policy

Speaker: Latanya Sweeney

Abstract: In the old days, computer scientists tended to be of the opinion that the goal of computer scientists was to construct machines and the goal of social scientists was to get society to accept them. There is no doubt that traditional approaches to computer science research have revolutionized the world in which we live, but past success using computer science research
methods is not a guarantee for adequately facing new challenges. A key challenge is data privacy and the need for privacy-preserving technology that works within established policy norms. In the absence of computer scientists, privacy problems become ones for policymakers, social scientists, economists, business managers, and information scientists to solve. While each of these have their own methods capable of producing their own brand of solution, none of them have the unique opportunity afforded the computer scientist and engineer who can invent appropriately new technology.

In this talk, we will examine a regulation (HIPAA), a law (VAWA), and jurisprudence (Probable Cause), as related to the use and privacy of personal data, and then introduce technical solutions designed for specific applications that fill the disconnect between technology and policy. The talk ends with a summary of the generalized lessons learned.

Latanya Sweeney, PhD is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She also founded and serves as the Director of the Data Privacy Lab, which works with real-world stakeholders to solve today’s privacy technology problems. Her work involves creating technologies and related policies with provable guarantees of privacy protection while allowing society to collect and share person-specific information for many worthy purposes. Her work has received awards from numerous organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Informatics Association, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The American College of Medical Informatics inducted her as a Fellow in 2006. Dr. Sweeney received her PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. Her undergraduate degree in computer science was from Harvard University where she graduated cum laude. She joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon as an Assistant Professor in 1998. She is the co-Director of the PhD Program in Computation, Organizations and Society at Carnegie Mellon and she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Privacy Technology. More information about Dr. Sweeney is available at her website