privacy

CS Table 2/7: Privacy and security

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has put together a detailed guide of a number of recommended practices used to maintain privacy and security at https://ssd.eff.org/, which we will rely on for this week's discussion. Please complete the following readings before Tuesday:

  1. An Introduction to Threat Modeling. EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide.
  2. Seven Steps to Digital Security. EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide.
  3. At least one other overview, topic, or briefing from the SSD guide.

If you have specific practices that you use and would be willing to share, please come prepared to demonstrate or describe them. When you choose additional readings, you are encouraged to look for guides that you think are relevant to your own use of technology.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table 9/20: Privacy and the Internet of Things

Join us at the CS Table on Tuesday, September 20, in JRC 224B. We will discuss the conflict between privacy and the internet of things (IoT).

The first two articles describe a Portland-based startup installing IoT devices in rentals. The company also has a promotional video I recommend watching.

The remaining readings cover issues of privacy and consumers' reactions to data use.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table 9/13: Data Privacy in Higher Ed

For the CS Table on September 13, Peter-Michael Osera would like to discuss data collection and privacy in a place we normally don’t consider: higher education. In efforts to streamline operations and better the student experience via data analytics, universities are frequently turning to the cloud for answers. Does this have implications for how we as students and faculty manage our data? Read these two articles:

Printed copies of the readings will be available after noon on Friday at Charlie Curtsinger’s office (Noyce 3827). In addition to the readings, there is a short “homework” activity to get you in the spirit of the discussion. Try to answer these brief questions:

  1. What FERPA is and how does it relate to your personal information? Read more about FERPA here: US DOE. "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)”. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
  2. Grinnell employs a number of third-party services that handle our (digital) data in various ways. List as many as you can.
  3. Why can these third-party services handle sensitive data that would otherwise be protected by FERPA? You can find the answer in this FERPA FAQ: US DOE. “FERPA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)”. http://familypolicy.ed.gov/faq-page#t62n218
  4. Completing this homework isn’t required to attend CS Table, but we will start the discussion by tackling these questions. So please come prepared if you have the time!

    Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table for 11/10: Building back doors into cryptographic standards

During the CS Table on November 10, 2015, we will be discussing the possibility of building back doors into cryptographic standards for use by law enforcement, and the broader issues surrounding privacy, cryptography, and law enforcement. There are three (brief) articles on the subject that give a good introduction to the technical and political issues around this debate.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-12:45 in JRC 224C. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department. For the up-to-date CS Table schedule, please visit the CS Table webpage.

CS Table: Privacy, Anonymity, and Big Data in the Social Sciences

On Friday, 26 September 2014, at CS Table, we will consider some recent ethical issues with the use of "Big Data" in social sciences research, including data from xMOOCs (Massive, Open, Online, Courses). Our reading will include a short article from Atlantic Monthly on the recent Facebook Controversy and a CACM article on uses of xMOOC data.

Sara M. Watson. Data Science: What the Facebook Controversy is Really About. The Atlantic. July 1, 2014. Available online at http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/data-science-what-the-facebook-controversy-is-really-about/373770/>.

Facebook has always “manipulated” the results shown in its users’ News Feeds by filtering and personalizing for relevance. But this weekend, the social giant seemed to cross a line, when it announced that it engineered emotional responses two years ago in an “emotional contagion” experiment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Since then, critics have examined many facets of the experiment, including itsdesign, methodology, approval process, and ethics. Each of these tacks tacitly accepts something important, though: the validity of Facebook’s science and scholarship. There is a more fundamental question in all this: What does it mean when we call proprietary data research data science?

As a society, we haven't fully established how we ought to think about data science in practice. It's time to start hashing that out.

Jon P. Daries, Justin Reich, Jim Waldo, Elise M. Young, Jonathan Whittinghill, Andrew Dean Ho, Daniel Thomas Seaton, and Isaac Chuang. 2014. Privacy, anonymity, and big data in the social sciences. Commun. ACM 57, 9 (September 2014), 56-63. DOI=10.1145/2643132 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2643132.

Open data has tremendous potential for science, but, in human subjects research, there is a tension between privacy and releasing high-quality open data. Federal law governing student privacy and the release of student records suggests that anonymizing student data protects student privacy. Guided by this standard, we de-identified and released a data set from 16 MOOCs (massive open online courses) from MITx and HarvardX on the edX platform. In this article, we show that these and other de-identification procedures necessitate changes to data sets that threaten replication and extension of baseline analyses. To balance student privacy and the benefits of open data, we suggest focusing on protecting privacy without anonymizing data by instead expanding policies that compel researchers to uphold the privacy of the subjects in open data sets. If we want to have high-quality social science research and also protect the privacy of human subjects, we must eventually have trust in researchers. Otherwise, we'll always have the strict tradeoff between anonymity and science illustrated here.

Printed copies of the readings are available next to Science 3821.

Computer science table is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Fridays from 12:10-12:50 in the Day PDR (JRC 224A). Contact Sam Rebelsky rebelsky@grinnell.edu for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table: Browser Fingerprinting and Web Tracking

This Friday in CS Table, we will consider recent trends in browser tracking. That is, we will explore the ways in which people who want to know what you are doing on the Web can keep track of you. We have one popular CS article and one research paper.

Nikiforakis, Nick & Güner Acar (2014). Browser Fingerprinting and the Online Tracking Arms Race. IEEE Spectrum, August 2014. Also available at http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/browser-fingerprinting-and-the-onlinetracking-arms-race.

In July 1993, The New Yorker published a cartoon by Peter Steiner that depicted a Labrador retriever sitting on a chair in front of a computer, paw on the keyboard, as he turns to his beagle companion and says, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Two decades later, interested parties not only know you’re a dog, they also have a pretty good idea of the color of your fur, how often you visit the vet, and what your favorite doggy treat is.

How do they get all that information? In a nutshell: Online advertisers collaborate with websites to gather your browsing data, eventually building up a detailed profile of your interests and activities. These browsing profiles can be so specific that they allow advertisers to target populations as narrow as mothers with teenage children or people who require allergy-relief products. When this tracking of our browsing habits is combined with our self-revelations on social media, merchants’ records of our off-line purchases, and logs of our physical whereabouts derived from our mobile phones, the information that commercial organizations, much less government snoops, can compile about us becomes shockingly revealing.

Here we examine the history of such tracking on the Web, paying particular attention to a recent phenomenon called fingerprinting, which enables companies to spy on people even when they configure their browsers to avoid being tracked.

Gunes Acar, Christian Eubank, Steven Englehardt, Marc Juarez, Arvind Narayana, Claudia Diaz. The Web Never Forgets: Persistent Tracking Mechanisms in the Wild. Preprint available at https://securehomes.esat.kuleuven.be/~gacar/persistent/index.html.

We present the first large-scale studies of three advanced web tracking mechanisms — canvas fingerprinting, evercookies and use of “cookie syncing” in conjunction with evercookies. Canvas fingerprinting, a recently developed form of browser fingerprinting, has not previously been reported in the wild; our results show that over 5% of the top 100,000 websites employ it. We then present the first automated study of evercookies and respawning and the discovery of a new evercookie vector, IndexedDB. Turning to cookie syncing, we present novel techniques for detection and analysing ID flows and we quantify the amplification of privacy-intrusive tracking practices due to cookie syncing.

Our evaluation of the defensive techniques used by privacy-aware users finds that there exist subtle pitfalls — such as failing to clear state on multiple browsers at once — in which a single lapse in judgement can shatter privacy defenses. This suggests that even sophisticated users face great difficulties in evading tracking techniques.

Computer science table is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Fridays at noon in the Day PDR (JRC 224A). Contact Sam Rebelsky rebelsky@grinnell.edu for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

Video presentation: "Here's how we take back the Internet"

On Thursday, May 1, a video recording of a recent talk by Edward Snowden, “Here's how we take back the Internet,” will be presented. Mr. Snowden is a former system administrator for the National Security Agency who resigned last May in order to expose widespread violations of civil rights and other abuses of power in the NSA.

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). The presentation, “ Here's how we take back the Internet,” will follow at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Computer Science Table: Privacy in the age of big data and analytics

At this week's Computer Science Table (at noon on Friday, April 18, in Rosenfield 224A), we will discuss privacy in the age of big data and analytics, and specifically the issues are raised in two videos (one recent, one classic):

“Demo: Big data and analytics at work in banking”
IBM Big Data and Analytics, YouTube, September 7, 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RYKgj-QK4I

“Scary pizza”
American Civil Liberties Union, YouTube, January 15, 2009
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33CIVjvYyEk

For more extensive discussions of some of these issues, you might want to read:

“Big data and the future of privacy”
John Podesta, whitehouse.gov, March 3, 2014
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/01/23/big-data-and-future-privacy

“Comments of the Electronic Privacy Information Center to the Office of Science and Technology Policy: Request for information: Big data and the future of privacy”
Electronic Privacy Information Center, April 4, 2014
https://epic.org/privacy/big-data/EPIC-OSTP-Big-Data.pdf

Computer Science Table is an open weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science.

CS Table: Trusting Trust

On Friday, 13 September 2013, the readings for CS Table will be two papers on trust.

The first is a classic paper, written as a Turing Award Speech

Ken Thompson. 1984. Reflections on trusting trust. Commun. ACM 27, 8 (August 1984), 761-763. DOI=10.1145/358198.358210 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/358198.358210

The second is a recent article from The New York Times

Nicole Perlroth, Jeff Larson, and Scott Shane. September 5, 2013. N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/us/nsa-foils-much-internet-encryption.html

Computer science table is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Fridays at noon in the Day PDR. Contact Sam Rebelsky (rebelsky@grinnell.edu) for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to pay the cost of their meals. Students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

CS Table: Online Health Information Systems

This Friday, October 14, Kyle and Martin E. will be leading a discussion about Online Health Information Systems. You can find links to the papers for this week at http://foswiki.cs.grinnell.edu/foswiki/bin/view/Courses/HealthCareAndCom... As usual, we'll meet around noon in JRC 224A. Hope to see you there!
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