As part of UCSC’s Data Science week, the first ever DataLex Conference brought together 26 speakers on Tuesday, Oct. 13, ranging from industry leaders to lawyers and scientists, to examine privacy, big data, and the surrounding laws.

Keynote speaker Jim Dempsey, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, suggested privacy be re-defined in what he calls “the era of big data,” saying that big data radically challenges the framework of the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPP), guidelines establishing fair information practice in the electronic marketplace.

Big data refers to information collected from electronic users to draw inferences about people, sometimes to make targeted ads. The FIPP requires companies to tell the consumer the specific purpose of collecting their data, and use limitations, in the terms and conditions, which are rarely read.

“Pretty much everybody agrees that the notice and consent model doesn’t work,” says Dempsey. “We all click ‘yes,’ we all sign off immediately without reading the terms.”

New alternatives to the failed consent model include requiring the user to correctly answer a quiz in order to accept the terms and conditions, a method employed by Sage Bionetworks and Apple Researchkit, which have released several medical study apps.

Travis LeBlanc, chief of the Bureau of Enforcement at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), shifted the conversation to data breaches and government interagency collaborations in dealing with morphed communication and technology companies.

“We have seen a disturbing increase in the number of data breaches that are taking place across the world,” LeBlanc said. “In 2012 there were about 28 million people who were affected by data breaches. In 2015 thus far, it looks like that number is about 150 million people.”

The Office of Campus Council at UCSC plans to host a similar conference, focused on cyber security in the spring. 


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