Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good

Videos and presentations from the book launch of “Privacy, Big Data and the Public Good” (Lane, J., Stodden, V., Bender, S. & Nissenbaum, H. (Eds)) are now available online.

Hosted by the NYU Center for Urban Science on July 16, the event included several panels with the book’s editors and a number of the authors.

Overview of the book:

Massive amounts of new data about people, their movements, and activities can now be accessed and analyzed as never before. Numerous privacy concerns have been raised by use – or misuse – of such data in commercial and national security arenas. Yet we are motivated by the potential for “big data” to be harnessed to serve the public good: scientists can use new forms of data to do research that improves people’s live; federal, state and local governments can use data to improve the delivery of services to citizens; and non-profit organizations can use the information to advance the public good.

Access to big data raises many unanswered questions related to privacy and confidentiality:  What are the ethical and legal requirements for scientists and government officials seeking to serve the public good without harming individual citizens? What are the rules of engagement? What are the best ways to provide access while protecting confidentiality? Are there reasonable mechanisms to compensate citizens for privacy loss?

Published by Cambridge University Press, the book is an accessible summary of the important legal, economic, and statistical thinking that frames the many privacy issues associated with the use of big data – along with practical suggestions for protecting privacy and confidentiality that can help to guide practitioners.