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Jessica Vitak
Jessica Vitak

University of Maryland

Privacy, Security, and Ethical Challenges in the Era of Big Data


Over the past decade, the Internet of Things has pushed its way into our workplaces and homes by making regular products "smarter." We now wear watches to track our steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Our thermostats learn over time about our heating and cooling preferences. Our refrigerator can detect when we run out of milk. And our intelligent personal assistants passively listen for a voice cue ("Alexa!") to respond to our questions and commands. In many ways, we are living in the science fiction future we dreamed of decades ago. On the other hand, the influx of devices meant to collect constant data about our movement and location, health, and purchasing patterns raises significant questions about the privacy and security of that data. In this talk, Jessica will share early results from two NSF grants, one looking at privacy and surveillance on smartphones and intelligent personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, and the other collaborative project on pervasive data ethics. She'll also raise questions for researchers working in this space to consider as they work with large, public datasets to ensure they are taking adequate steps to protect the data and the users behind that data.


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