Privacy and security are critical for realizing big data's promise to advance society. If data is used without regard to privacy of individuals or protection of the data, then individuals may be hurt. If data's authenticity is not guaranteed, or if data is not permitted to be used at all due to privacy and security concerns, then the data's value is not realized. As the information that is collected about us grows in quantity, scientific and commercial value, and sensitivity, addressing these challenges is crucial to accessing the benefits of big data while ensuring that privacy and associated basic rights —free speech and association, for example— are respected. Security and privacy play a key role in areas such as health, energy, and smart cities. They are also repeatedly identified as a grand challenge in and of themselves.
Many important uses of big data rely inherently on sensitive data. Both the value and the sensitivity of the data stems from the fact that it is about people and their lives, and that it has the capability to provide unexpected insight due to its scale and to algorithmic improvements in data analysis. The workshop, held as part of a planning effort to catalyze the "Privacy and Security" connector of the North East Big Data hub, will bring together privacy and security experts as well as experts in a variety of big data application areas to highlight privacy and security issues associated with each of the Northeast Big Data hub spokes. Topics to be addressed include:
Some talks will focus on describing to a broad audience what should and should not be expected from security and privacy technologies. In particular, users of data (whether actual practitioners, system designers, or policy makers) often are aware of "basic" security mechanisms such as text-based passwords and end-to-end encryption, but may not be aware of more sophisticated solutions that can provide better security or more functional or flexible solutions. Conversely, they often seek solutions that cannot exist, such as the attractive but false hope to meaningfully anonymize data without any reduction in its utility.
Throughout, a goal of the workshop is to highlight challenges arising in big data applications that are not addressed by current security and privacy mechanisms.