Big Data's End Run Around Anonymity and Consent: Blow to Privacy, or New Beginnings with Guest Speaker: Helen Nissenbaum

February 12, 2016 |
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Thornton E303


Big Data's End Run Around Anonymity and Consent: Blow to Privacy, or New Beginnings

For decades anonymity and consent have played a central role in privacy protection-consent, because it means control over information; anonymity because it removes information from privacy's remit entirely.  Whereas, for some time, data practices have posed challenges to the achievement  of anonymity and consent, Nissenbaum's talk will reveal how big data poses challenges not only to their achievement but also to their very relevance. Although some would present privacy as an unfortunate but necessary casualty of big data, she argues, that they are mistaking means for ends: Severing, or weakening the connection between privacy, on the one hand, and, on the other, anonymity and consent does not mean privacy is dead. But it does mean new pathways must be explored to enhance our appreciation of what privacy is and why it is of value.

Guest Speaker: Helen Nissenbaum


Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture, ad Communication, and Computer Science, at New York University, where she is also Director of the Information Law Institute.  Her work spans  societal, ethical, and political dimensions of information technology and digital media.  Prof. Nissenbaum's nine books include Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest, with F. Brunton (MIT Press, 2015), Values at Play in Digital Games, with M. Flanagan (MIT Press, 2014), and Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford, 2010). Her research has been published in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. The National Science Foundaton, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ford Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as studies of values embodied in design, search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.  Recipient of the 2014 Barwise Prize of the American Philosophical Association, Prof. Nissenbaum has contributed to privacy-enhancing software, including TrackMeNot and AdNauseam.