Integrating Approaches to Privacy Across the Research Lifecycle: When Is Information Purely Public?

23 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015 Last revised: 8 Apr 2015

David O'Brien

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Jonathan Ullman

Columbia University Department of Computer Science

Micah Altman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries; The Brookings Institution

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Michael Bar-Sinai

Ben Gurion University of the Negev; Harvard University - Institute for Quantitative Social Science

Kobbi Nissim

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Salil Vadhan

Harvard University - Center for Research on Computation and Society

Michael John Wojcik

Harvard University - Center for Research on Computation and Society

Alexandra Wood

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: March 27, 2015

Abstract

On September 24-25, 2013, the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project at Harvard University held a workshop titled "Integrating Approaches to Privacy across the Research Data Lifecycle." Over forty leading experts in computer science, statistics, law, policy, and social science research convened to discuss the state of the art in data privacy research. The resulting conversations centered on the emerging tools and approaches from the participants’ various disciplines and how they should be integrated in the context of real-world use cases that involve the management of confidential research data.

Researchers are increasingly obtaining data from social networking websites, publicly-placed sensors, government records and other public sources. Much of this information appears public, at least to first impressions, and it is capable of being used in research for a wide variety of purposes with seemingly minimal legal restrictions. The insights about human behaviors we may gain from research that uses this data are promising. However, members of the research community are questioning the ethics of these practices, and at the heart of the matter are some difficult questions about the boundaries between public and private information. This workshop report, the second in a series, identifies selected questions and explores issues around the meaning of “public” in the context of using data about individuals for research purposes.

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, David and Ullman, Jonathan and Altman, Micah and Gasser, Urs and Bar-Sinai, Michael and Nissim, Kobbi and Vadhan, Salil and Wojcik, Michael John and Wood, Alexandra, Integrating Approaches to Privacy Across the Research Lifecycle: When Is Information Purely Public? (March 27, 2015). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2015-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2586158 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2586158

David O'Brien (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jonathan Ullman

Columbia University Department of Computer Science ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Micah Altman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

HOME PAGE: http://informatics.mit.edu

The Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

HOME PAGE: http://informatics.mit.edu

Urs Gasser

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/ugasser.html

Michael Bar-Sinai

Ben Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.cs.bgu.ac.il/~barsinam/

Harvard University - Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.iq.harvard.edu/people/michael-bar-sinai

Kobbi Nissim

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev ( email )

1 Ben-Gurion Blvd
Beer-Sheba 84105, 84105
Israel

Salil Vadhan

Harvard University - Center for Research on Computation and Society ( email )

33 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael John Wojcik

Harvard University - Center for Research on Computation and Society ( email )

33 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexandra Wood

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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