July 2012

Reasoning about information: an example

One of the reasons it's hard to think carefully about privacy is that privacy is fundamentally about information, and our (uneducated) intuition about information is often unreliable.

As a teacher, I have tried different approaches to helping students get over this barrier.  It's not too hard to teach the theory, so that students learn how to manipulate logical formulas to answer contrived story problems about information and inference.  What is more difficult is augmenting the formal theory with a more accurate intuition that is useful outside the classroom.

Privacy by design: frequency capping

One of the principles of Privacy by Design, as advocated in the FTC Privacy Report, is that when you design a business process, it's a best practice to think carefully about how to minimize the information you collect, retain, and use in that process.  Often, you can implement the feature you want, with a smaller privacy footprint, if you think carefully about your design alternatives.