The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (“OSTP”) is set to co-host a series of at least three public workshops to review “the implications of collecting, analyzing, and using” big data. The series continues the White House’s 2014 focus on privacy and big data, which began on January 17 with President Obama’s discussion of big data and U.S. intelligence programs more broadly at the Department of Justice. The announcement also comes one month after the White House appointed Counselor John Podesta to lead a “comprehensive review” of how big data affects how Americans “live and work,” “the relationship between government and citizens,” and “how public and private sectors can spur innovation and maximize the opportunities and free flow of this information while minimizing the risks to privacy.” The Podesta-led collaborative review will culminate in a report to the President, expected to be delivered in April 2014.
According to the workshops’ announcement by White House U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Nicole Wong, the events are designed to continue the above efforts to establish a comprehensive picture of the effects of big data on society by bringing together “technologists, business leaders, civil society, and the academic community” in a discussion of key issues. The OSTP has also indicated its further desire to engage a multitude of voices in the debate of the future of big data by promising “additional opportunities for the public to inform this important work.”
The first workshop in the series, entitled “Big Data Privacy: Advancing the State of the Art in Technology and Practice” will be an all-day affair held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 3, 2014. According to an announcement by MIT, this first workshop will focus on the “core technical challenges” of big data and dialogue regarding “a theoretical grounding for privacy considerations in large-scale information systems.” The workshop will be keynoted by Podesta and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and include roundtable discussions attended by representatives from the National Security Agency, academia, privacy advocacy groups, and industry.
Additional workshops are set to be co-hosted with the Data & Society Research Institute and New York University and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. Details regarding the NYU and Berkeley events are not yet available.