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What Facebook can learn from academia about protecting privacy

What Facebook can learn from academia about protecting privacy

In this Oped for The Boston Globe, Alex Wood and Micah Altman of the Harvard Privacy Tools Project offer insights gleaned from their recent research publication "Practical Approaches to Big Data Privacy Over Time."

From undisclosed data sharing that puts health and financial information at risk to political ads targeted using unauthorized data, the consequences of big data have become vaster and more threatening than anyone could have imagined. Our research finds traditional approaches to safeguarding privacy stretched to the limit as thousands of data points are collected about each of us every day and maintained indefinitely by a host of technology platforms.

For all our fears, many people have a sense that the erosion of privacy is simply the price we must pay for the benefits of technology. However, the death of privacy is not inevitable, and the proof comes from another field that collects and protects large amounts of sensitive personal information: scientific research.

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The Berkman Klein Center has long been home to a number of cross-disciplinary initiatives that investigate privacy and privacy-relevant questions in the digitally networked…

Publications 01

Mar 12, 2018

Practical Approaches to Big Data Privacy Over Time

This article analyzes how privacy risks multiply as large quantities of personal data are collected over longer periods of time.