Information Policy


Jul 12, 8:30am to 5:45pm


National Academies, Washington D.C.

Dr Altman will present a plenary talk on Rewards and Incentives at this Upcoming Co-DATA/NRC  Workshop :

This workshop  is for data professionals focused on increasing awareness and encouraging policy and practice in support of data citation. It brings together perspectives on the value, use, and challenges of data citation from various stakeholders, including: publishers, editors, data managers, and authors. 

This meeting is open to all. Registration is available through the conference website: 

Altman M, Capps C, Prevost R.
Location Confidentiality and Official Surveys
. Social Science Research Network [Internet]. 2016.
In general, the growth of big data sources have changed the threat landscape of privacy and statistics in at least three major ways. First, when surveys were initially founded as the principal source of statistical information, whether one participated in a survey was largely unknown. Now, as government record systems and corporate big data sources are increasingly used that include all or a large portion of a given universe, that privacy protection is eroded. Second, in the past, little outside information was generally available to match with published summaries. Now the ubiquity of auxiliary information enables many more inferences from summary data. Third, in the past, typical privacy attacks relied on linking outside data through well-known public characteristics -- PII or BII. Now, datasets can be linked through behavioral fingerprints. The current state of the practice in privacy lags well behind the state of the art in this area. Most commercial organizations, and most NSOs in other countries continue to rely (at most) on traditional aggregation and suppression methods to protect privacy – with no formal analysis of privacy loss or of the utility of the information gathered. The U.S. Census Bureau, because of its size, institutional capacity, and strong reputation for privacy protection could establish leadership in modernizing privacy practices.
Wood A, Airoldi E, Altman M, de Montandre Y, Gasser U, O'Brien D, Vadhan S. Privacy Tools project response to Common Rule Notice of Proposed Rule Making. Comments on Regulation.Gov [Internet]. 2016. Publisher's VersionAbstract
  This is a Comment on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Proposed Rule: Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects   We recognize the exciting research opportunities enabled by new data sources and technologies for collecting, analyzing, and sharing data about individuals. With the ability to collect and analyze massive quantities of data related to human characteristics, behaviors, and interactions, researchers are increasingly able to explore phenomena in finer detail and with greater confidence. At the same time, a 2 major challenge for realizing the full potential of these recent advances will be protecting the privacy of human subjects. Approaches to privacy protection in common use in both research and industry contexts often provide limited real­world privacy protection. We believe institutional review boards (IRBs) and investigators require new guidance to inform their selection and implementation of appropriate measures for privacy protection in human subjects research. Therefore, we share many of the same concerns and rec
Vayena E, Gasser U, Wood A, O'Brien D, Altman M. Elements of a New Ethical and Regulatory Framework for Big Data Research. Washington and Lee Law Review [Internet]. 2016;72(3):420-442. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vast quantities of data about individuals are increasingly being created by services such as mobile apps and online social networks and through methods such as DNA sequencing. These data are quite rich, containing a large number of fine-grained data points related to human biology, characteristics, behaviors, and relationships over time.

Responsible Use of Open Data in Government and the Private Sector

Nov 20, 9:00am to 5:00pm


New York Universityl New York, NY

Dr Altman will present on privacy and open data at the conference on  Responsible Use of Open Data in Government and the Private Sector to be held at NYU.

Registration is available through the the conference website :

(This event is hosted at the NYU Steinhardt School Department of Media, Culture and Communications; and sponsored by Berkeley Center for Law and Technology and Microsoft Research.)

Transparency and Inference for Big Data -- Third Census-MIT Big Data Workshop

Dec 07, 12:00pm to Dec 08, 5:00pm


E25-401 MIT, Cambridge, MA

Survey costs are increasing and response rates are decreasing. These pressures are forcing official statistical agencies to re-examine the way they collect data. Big Data are potential drivers of innovation that may reduce survey costs and respondent burden, but that also pose threats to inference and transparency. We need to understand how using big data, in conjunction with survey data collection, can address the issues posed by rising costs and nonresponse while producing transparent inference.


Location Confidentiality and Official Surveys -- Second Census-MIT Big Data Workshop

Nov 30, 12:00pm to Dec 01, 5:00pm


E25-202 MIT, Cambridge, MA

Based on mobile devices alone, commercial entities have the potential to collect extensive, fine grained, continuous, and identifiable records of a persons location and movement history, accompanied with a partial record of other mobile devices (potentially linked to people) encountered over that history. This information is increasingly used for commercial purposes, such as targeted advertising, and for scientific research.

Scholarly Communications in the age of Big Data – Rules of Practical Information Economics

Mar 13, 8:00am to 5:00pm

Dr. Altman will give a presentation at the University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries.

More content is being created by scientists and scholars than ever -- and vastly greater collections of information are the subject of science as scholarship. Simultaneously, the community of users for  and uses of this information are changing. This talk reflects on trends in the generation and use of durable information assets in scholarship and science, and on the changing relationship between consumers, purchasers and funders. 

DMCA §1201 and Video Game Preservation Institutions: A Case Study in Combining Preservation and Advocacy

Feb 11, 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: E25-131 Conference

Archival institutions and libraries are often on the front lines of battles over ownership of digital content and the legality of ensuring copies are preserved. How can institutions devoted to preservation use their expertise to advocate for users? Kendra Albert, formerly of the team, discusses her work with librarians and archival institutions on a Digital Millennium Copyright Act §1201 exemption proposal for video games..

The 2014 National Agenda for Digital Stewardship – What Works in Digital Preservation, and What is Needed -- CNI Member Meeting

Dec 09, 10:00am to 12:00pm

Dr Altman in collaboration with Michelle Gallinger & Trevor Owens (Library of Congress) will present a briefing at the CNI Member Meeting on the 2014 National Agenda for Digital Stewardship.