Future of Privacy Forum and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society Team Up to Talk Big Data Risk and Rewards

Future of Privacy Forum and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society Team Up to Talk Big Data Risk and Rewards

For Immediate Release
Contact: Melissa Merz, 773.505.6037
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Future of Privacy Forum and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society Team Up to Talk Big Data Risk and Rewards


Washington, DC – The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS) today hosted a forum addressing critical issues involved with the collection and use of Big Data.

The day-long forum was sold out and had to be moved twice to accommodate space demands.

On September 3, the Stanford Law Review Online published 11 new papers by privacy leaders in academia, government and business in a special symposium issue dedicated to the tension between big data innovation and privacy risks. Many of the papers are slated to be presented today at a forum titled Big Data and Privacy: Making Ends Meet, which is hosted by Microsoft in Washington, DC.

The forum makes up one of the largest gatherings of privacy experts to take place since the recent revelations about the massive scope of NSA data collection and analysis. While Snowden’s leaks focused on data-driven government surveillance, big data tools also are used to spark innovation and growth in the private sector in areas ranging from public health and scientific research to energy conservation and sustainable development.

The Stanford publication and today’s forum raises issue at the heart of the current privacy discussion such as balancing big data’s benefits against privacy costs. In their presentation, FPF Executive Director Jules Polonetsky and FPF Senior Fellow and CIS Affiliate Scholar Omer Tene proposed a first-of-its kind framework for assessing big data benefits against attendant privacy costs. The full paper – published last week — can be read here. The calculation takes into account factors such as who benefits from big data; who bears the costs; and what is the probability of risks and rewards.

“Finding the right balance between privacy risks and big data rewards is one of the biggest public policy challenges of our time,” Polonestky and Tene said. “Unfortunately, the discussion lurches from crisis to crisis, focusing on legalistic formalities while the bigger policy choices remain blurred. This is a debate that has to happen now, not later.”

Rayid Ghani, co-founder of Edgeflip, a startup building social media analytics products for non-profits and the former Chief Scientist for the Obama for America 2012 campaign, is scheduled to provide a keynote address. Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, will deliver closing notes.

Today’s forum is scheduled from 9 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET in Washington, DC, at Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center, 901 K St., NW.

Media should contact Melissa Merz at 773.505.6037 or at FPFMedia@futureofprivacy.org. Also, follow the conversation on Twitter at #BigPrivacy.

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