Posts Tagged ‘Announcements’

Upcoming CDP Presentation at DIMACS

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The Common Data Project is excited to announce we will be presenting at the DIMACS conference this week.  Officially called the “Workshop on Internet Privacy: Facilitating Seamless Data Movement with Appropriate Control,” the conference is organized by Dan Boneh, Ed Felten, and Helen Nissenbaum.

Alex Selkirk will be speaking on a panel on Thursday, September 18, called, “Aggregation, Mining, Profiling: Who should be in control?”  We’re looking forward to the feedback we’ll get at the conference, as we’re eager to share our ideas and learn from others who are on the program.  We’ll provide more information on our presentation after the conference, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

The Common Datatrust Foundation Changes Name to The Common Data Project

Monday, August 18th, 2008

We are excited to announce that we have a new name, The Common Data Project. We’ve changed our name for a couple of reasons, to avoid confusion around our use of the words “trust” and “foundation.” As an organization trying to create a new kind of nonprofit institution, we were interested in using these words to help explain our work through analogies to existing institutions–a datatrust that holds an individual’s personal information like a personal financial account, an organization that provides “grants” of information to researchers and nonprofit organizations. But given the specific legal definitions of a financial “trust” and “foundation,” we’ve decided that it’s more important to avoid public confusion. After all, we’re very decidedly not an investment company nor a private foundation.

In any case, we like the immediacy of the word “project”! We’re excited about moving forward on our Project and we hope you’ll get involved with our Project as well.

Geoffrey Desa joining the board of the Common Datatrust Foundation

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

We’re very pleased to announce that Geoffrey Desa has joined the board of the Common Datatrust Foundation. Geoff is currently finishing up his doctoral dissertation on technology social entrepreneurship at the University of Washington, Seattle, and will soon begin teaching and continuing his research at San Francisco State University. His research is on small ventures that develop and deploy technology for a social purpose, recognizing that many forms of technology can be replicated and used by large numbers of people at low cost. Geoff has studied organizations and projects from all over the world, from secure documentation programs for human rights field investigators to improved technology for Kenyan beekeepers. In particular, Geoff is interested in how these innovative organizations are launched, how they access and use resources, and how early decisions impact future work.

We’re thrilled that Geoff will be bringing his expertise on nonprofit organizational structure to the Common Datatrust Foundation as we work on creating a nonprofit that sets new standards for transparency, accountability, and trustworthiness.

CDTF’s Presentation at the Workshop on Data Privacy

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

The Common Datatrust Foundation recently attended and made a short presentation at the Workshop on Data Privacy, hosted by Rutgers University’s Center for Discrete Mathematics & Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS).

There were spirited conversations across disciplines as statisticians, mathematicians, computer scientists, and media experts discussed how to balance the public’s interest in both privacy and information sharing. The presentations ranged from tutorials on new security and privacy technology to the management of existing databases of personal information, such as the U.S. Census, as well as thought-provoking presentations on more abstract but highly relevant questions, such as what we mean when we say we want to protect “privacy.” As Professor Helen Nissenbaum from NYU Law School pointed out, certain kinds of information flow are appropriate for certain situations; there is no uniform way to understand privacy protection.

We were excited to see how our presentation provoked questions and conversations as well. Alex Selkirk introduced the concept of a “datatrust,” a secure, structured data storage system where each record in each dataset has a set of rules defining who may use it, what it may be used for, and with what level of anonymity it may be disclosed. The presentation focused primarily on one example of the current limits of data disclosure: the subprime mortgage crisis. Although there is a great deal of data held by banks and mortgage companies on subprime loans, investigators and researchers are unable to analyze the data because the data holders are bound by confidentiality agreements to individual borrowers. CDTF proposed that a datatrust, as a third party, could use new technology to anonymize and aggregate the data in a way that would allow researchers to query the loan data without forcing the disclosure of identifying details about the borrowers. Such data-sharing would further CDTF’s mission to both protect individual privacy and encourage the sharing of information for the public good.

We hope that the conversation we began at DIMACS will continue to engage conference participants and others in the coming months.

Announcing the Incorporation of The Common Datatrust Foundation

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

We’re proud to announce that this blog, “My Place in the Crowd,” has found a new purpose.The issues and ideas that originally gave rise to this blog have led to the recent incorporation of a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization, The Common Datatrust Foundation. Our mission is to:

  1. Raise awareness of privacy challenges we face today
  2. Broker the exchange of data between individuals, institutions, businesses, and government; and
  3. Advance new solutions for securely storing and sharing personal information.

We will soon be providing more information on our website,, about our ideas for achieving these goals. But as the official blog of CDTF, “My Place in the Crowd” will serve as our main forum for developing ideas, raising questions about how personal data is being used by businesses and government, and pushing to define the distinction between real privacy protection and legal posturing. We ask you to join in as well!

As an organization, we value transparency and openness, both in the way we operate internally and the way we promote our goals. We want your thoughts and your participation, as concerned individuals and as representatives of institutions, agencies and businesses. We look forward to hearing from you.

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