With the FTC’s 2017 PrivacyCon event on January 12 and various other privacy-related events in the area that week, Washington, DC will see an influx of Privacy Researchers in early January. Given this short-term wealth of privacy experts, we’re taking the opportunity to host a pre-PrivacyCon networking event on January 11, 2:30 to 4:30 pm. Besides showcasing some of the excellent privacy research already taking place, we would like to facilitate both additional privacy research and connections between researchers and organizations interested in their work. This event complements the National Privacy Research Strategy (NPRS), which calls for funding for privacy research, coordination across federal agencies, and mechanisms to facilitate the alignment of privacy research with real-world requirements.
We’re expecting over a dozen government agencies and non-profit organizations that fund or support privacy research to attend. Some of these organizations offer grant funding or student internships. Others are interested in collaborating with privacy researchers, and some publish or promote privacy research. This is a great opportunity for privacy researchers to meet representatives from these organizations and learn about the opportunities they offer. Participating government agencies include the Census Bureau, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the FTC’s own Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTech). Participating non-profits include the Association for Computing Machinery, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Reports, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Future of Privacy Forum, Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Tor Project.
Since I joined the FTC last January, I’ve been reaching out to academic researchers to let them know about what the FTC does and to learn about the research they are doing that could help the FTC. The FTC has benefitted enormously from our interactions with researchers, and the researchers tell us that they value the ability to make a real-world impact with their research. We’ve hosted a number of graduate students as OTech interns: if you attended or watched the videos from any of our fall technology workshops, you probably saw our interns presenting their research on ransomware, drones, or smart TVs. Academic researchers have sent us papers that have informed the analyses we’ve performed. Some of the insights shared by researchers on security and privacy issues impacting consumers have led to public enforcement actions. We continue to be interested in hearing about research that will inform our consumer protection mission, and discussing opportunities for collaboration.
The author’s views are his or her own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commission or any Commissioner.