Thursday, January 31, 2013

CMU Privacy Day Highlights Challenges and Showcases Research

At CMU, Data Privacy Day was recognized with a CyLab-sponsored panel discussion and poster session. Moderated by CyLab researcher Norman Sadeh, the panel included CyLab researchers Lorrie Cranor and Jason Hong, along with computer science faculty Travis Breaux. Privacy was the overarching topic, but the discussion focused on key points regarding data collection and usage practice, and regulation.

The panel first discussed data collection and usage practices. It is clear that awareness of data collection has increased, mostly due to mobile applications and the requirement to agree to application permissions. However, Jason Hong offered, “People are surprised … they don’t know how much data is being collected and what is being done with it.”

Lorrie Cranor added, “There is very little control over what apps actually collect when they are on your phone, what they do with it, and then whatever data is collected, how it is further shared.”
Discussion of regulation popped up during data collection. Whether provided by industry or government, regulation is seen as essential to protect privacy. Many proposals offered by government support self-regulation, provided by the industry. A set of guidelines, or best practices, can be released by the industry, but as technology advances, self-regulating policies become outmoded. As new and innovative devices and applications are created, Hong offers, “It is not clear what the set of best practices are... how to do you take these principles and apply to the mobile space or new areas that we haven’t even imagined yet.”

Discussion continued on what the panel felt were the biggest challenges in privacy, as well as, their current research projects on data privacy. Some of those projects were presented at a poster session, which followed the panel.

Watch the panel discussion in its entirety.