Why What You Know About Protecting Privacy Might Be Wrong

 Date & Time

Wed, 05/06/2015 at 5:30-7:00 PM


Privacy is a theme that enjoys increasing media attention. Besides Edward Snowden’s disclosures, recent news items include the consequences of Europe’s Draft Data Protection Directive on the use of personal data for advertising, and Mattel’s “Eavesdropping” Barbie doll that can send recordings of conversations to third parties for voice recognition processing. A different and more subtle form of breach occurs when personal information can be inferred from data and information that has been deemed safe and consequently disclosed. An example is AOL’s search data leak in 2006. AOL released detailed search logs of users for academic research purposes, but the public release of information raised privacy concerns since users could be identified through personal information in their search logs. The New York Times identified several users, including 62-year-old Thelma Arnold, a widow in Liburn, Georgia. The breach led to a media frenzy and the eventual resignation of AOL’s CTO, Maureen Govern. In this talk, Dr. Vinterbo discussed why he feels privacy is needed, why it is useful to think of privacy not as a fixed state, but a never-ending process, and why intuition about how to protect privacy can be misleading. He also presented an example of a state-of-the-art privacy protection technique and how it could be used to inform HIV prevention efforts in San Diego. The event featured three guest panelists.


Staal Vinterbo
University of California San Diego, Division of Biomedical Informatics
Staal A. Vinterbo is an Associate Professor at the University of California San Diego Division of Biomedical Informatics. He graduated in 2000 from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with a PhD in Computer Science. His research interest include pattern matching, algorithms, and privacy preserving machine learning. Since 2010, he has been asked to serve as a privacy technology expert in the ongoing US national discourse on health privacy, including at events hosted by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Guest Panelist: Robert Marasco

Robert Marasco, an attorney with Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch, LLP, utilizes his experience as a former federal prosecutor to effectively and efficiently defend corporate clients and individuals, in all contexts, who are working through complex internal or government investigations, responding to grand jury and administrative subpoenas, investigative demands for interviews, or facing criminal prosecution. Additionally, Robert advises clients on the topics of data privacy and security, helping with preparedness, responding to breaches, and in the healthcare context compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), and other health care privacy laws.

Guest Panelist: Harold Cooks

Harold Cooks, local Californian, has lived in San Diego for the past 25 years. He has been HIV+ for 25 years and holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.

Guest Panelist: Miguel Goicoechea

Miguel Goicoechea, M.D. has a research background in HIV clinical therapeutic trials and translational studies in immune reconstitution at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Goicoechea’s expertise is in clinical trial design, statistical analysis and research ethics in human subjects. His current position is Head of Division of Infectious Diseases at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California.