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Professor Stephen Wicker briefs National Economic Council on big data, analytics, and privacy

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ECE Professor Stephen B. Wicker was recently invited, along with faculty from Princeton, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon, to brief the "Big Data" working group of the National Economic Council at the White House. This working group is trying to obtain a better understanding of the latest trends in big data, analytics, and privacy.
"During the briefing, I focused on the fact that the alleged distinction between the content and context (metadata) of communication is misleading at best, false at worst," said Professor Wicker. "Metadata can reveal a great deal about the beliefs, behavior, and preferences of an individual."
Wicker also spoke about his research into privacy-aware demand response and cellular systems—systems that are able to fulfill their functions without collecting personal information.
As a whole, the group discussed the question of when users should be able to opt out of data collection, and when they shouldn't. Additionally, they examined how to better enable the FTC to police corporate privacy policies. As it turns out, many corporations apparently violate their own privacy policies without any fear of retribution.

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