Bridging Industry and Academia to Tackle Responsible Research and Privacy Practices

Workshop Description

As more human interactions move online and the amount and variety of information shared digitally continues to grow, decisions regarding the collection, sharing, and use of this data must take into account both ethical and privacy considerations. It is important that industry and academia come together to find joint solutions for making these difficult decisions regarding privacy and ethics to maximize the benefits of data-driven research and practices, while ensuring that harms and negative outcomes are prevented. To bridge communication between these communities, we are organizing a workshop for thought leaders from academia, industry and civil society to identify common goals, establish a long-term vision, and initiate working teams for tangible projects focused on responsible research ethics and privacy practices around user data. The workshop will kick-off with a keynote from Facebook’s Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, Rob Sherman, and a panel discussion from our advisory board members. 

Workshop Organizers: Xinru Page, Bentley University; Pamela Wisniewski, University of Central Florida; Margaret Honda, Future of Privacy Forum, Jen Romano-Bergstrom, Instagram and President of the UXPA (User Experience Professionals Association); Sona Makker, Facebook; Norberto Andrade, Facebook

Advisory Board Members: Chris Clifton, Purdue University; Lorrie Cranor, Carnegie Mellon University, Director CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory; Lauri Kanerva, Facebook, Research Management Lead; Helen Nissenbaum, Cornell Tech and New York University; Jules Polonetsky, Future of Privacy Forum, Chief Executive Officer (full board to be finalized soon)

When: November 2 – 3, 2017

Location: Facebook Offices, 770 Broadway, New York, NY


Workshop Themes and Goals

The goal of this workshop is to develop concrete project proposals and solidify new partnerships across disciplinary lines by drafting goal-specific research or design proposals. The teams will pursue these projects after the conclusion of the workshop. The outcomes of this inaugural meeting will be sustained through future workshops that will be co-created by our growing community – if you attend this workshop, you will be expected to collaborate with your working group and return to the next workshop (in about a year) to present group outcomes.  Themes for the workshop include:

Data Analytics and PrivacyPreserving Technologies. How should organizations decide which data uses and applications are fair and appropriate? What are the strengths and limitations of privacy-preserving techniques, such as differential privacy and obfuscation, to remove sensitive information or add uncertainty to a dataset before it is released, or before further services are developed with data? In what contexts have privacy preserving technologies been deployed to unlock new types of data analysis while guaranteeing meaningful protection of privacy? 

Privacy and Ethics in User Research. Data-driven research conducted to understand people’s behavior online raises questions about the types of research practices and techniques that should be used to respect privacy (e.g. around de-identification and re-identification of individuals through data-mining, linking, merging and re-using of large datasets). How might ethical considerations guide new data collection and use practices so that they respect privacy and promote societal benefits for all? 

People-Centered Privacy Design. The privacy landscape has for too long been dominated by long policy statements and formal consent processes. By leveraging design thinking, there is an opportunity to raise the bar and reorient our approach to privacy in a way that puts people at the center. How can organizations use design thinking to provide people better visibility and control over their data? And how can a more people-focused approach enable us to reorient toward a modern, innovative approach to privacy?


Call for Participation

Our intent is to bring together experts from different fields who are engaging in research or initiatives in the themed areas outlined above. To encourage a diverse set of attendees, we ask those who are interested to provide their resume or CV and a 1 to 2-page submission that includes the following information (no specific format required):  

  • Biosketch. A one to two paragraph biosketch that provides an introduction to who you are and your background. Clearly articulate whether you come from industry, academia, or civil society. 
  • Project Theme. A description of your planned or existing research projects that aligns with one of the three themes. Clearly indicate the progress you have made, lessons learned, as well as the contribution of the work to the field. 
  • Influence. A statement on how you would be influential within your respective community in disseminating the workshop outcomes after the conclusion of the workshop.  

Please send submissions and questions to [email protected]. Due to the significant impact of the recent natural disasters, we are extending the deadline for submissions through September 30th, 2017, 11:59PM EST. Submissions will be peer-reviewed by the workshop program committee and will be accepted based on selection criteria that ensures a diverse set of attendees who are able to work together on the relevant workshop themes and goals. Limited travel funding will be available to workshop participants based on need. 


Additional Information

Program Committee Members (full committee to be finalized soon)

Adam Smith, Boston University; Bart Knijnenberg, Clemson University; Casey Fiesler, University of Colorado Boulder; Dennis Hirsch, Ohio State University; Janice Tsai, Mozilla; Jed Brubaker, University of Colorado Boulder; Jessica Vitak, University of Maryland; Lorraine Kisselburgh, Purdue University; Luke Stark, Dartmouth College; Marco Gaboardi, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Mary Ellen Zurko, Independent Consultant; Nicholas Proferes, University of Kentucky; Norah Abokhodair, Microsoft; Rachel Cummings, Georgia Tech; Shannon Vallor, Santa Clara University; Woodrow Hartzog, Northeastern University School of Law; Yang Wang, Syracuse University


This event is partially supported by National Science Foundation Grant No. 1654085.  Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.