FTC Commissioner to Urge Data Brokers to Disclose Consumer Information to Consumers

Brooklyn, N.Y.—At a conference exploring conflicts between privacy and today’s massive collection of marketing data, Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill will call on companies that compile and distribute personal information culled from the Internet to reveal their data collection and use practices to consumers. 

“Reclaim Your Name: Privacy in the World of Big Data” will be the third in a series of open lectures on cybersecurity and privacy sponsored by the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) in alliance with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The lecture is free and open to the public, but attendance is limited and requires registration. As with prior NYU-Poly Sloan Lectures, the event on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, is expected to draw New York’s regional businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, academic institutions, media, and the public into a discussion of strategies that address growing risks.

The high-level conversation will include panelists Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, global privacy and public policy executive of Acxiom Corporation; Julia Angwin, technology reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of an upcoming book on privacy, Dragnet Nation (Times Books); Daniel Weitzner, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s CSAIL Decentralized Information Group and former U.S. deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy in the White House; and moderator Katherine J. Strandburg, the Alfred B. Engelberg Professor of Law, NYU School of Law.

Brill will lead a discussion examining challenges to consumer privacy posed by Big Data analytics, searching for practical solutions rooted in consumer protection and robust competition. She will urge the technology community to work on technological solutions to enhance consumer privacy in the realm of Big Data. She will explain her comprehensive initiative, “Reclaim Your Name,” to give consumers the knowledge and tools to reassert control over their extensive personal data. 

As part of her “Reclaim Your Name” initiative, Brill is expected to call on data brokers to make profiling information available to consumers and allow them to correct or suppress the information, as appropriate. Brill will point out that one of the biggest hurdles for consumers is determining exactly who is collecting online information about them and for what purpose– information that may determine what advertising they see, their loan and insurance rates, and their eligibility for schools, clubs, and other benefits.

The amount of digital data being created daily now equals 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, according to an estimate by the non-profit association for information technology professionals ISACA. Ninety percent of currently available data was created in the last two years alone, ISACA says.

NYU-Poly President Katepalli Sreenivasan will welcome panelists and guests.

"As the site of one of the nation's premiere cybersecurity graduate programs as well as the largest student cybersecurity competition in the world, NYU-Poly is pleased to host this important event," Sreenivasan said. "The intertwined issues of privacy and security are being transformed by rapidly evolving technology. Research in these fields, being carried out on different levels, translates into real-world solutions at NYU-Poly and NYU. Commissioner Brill is engaged in that same search for solutions. We are pleased that she is our principal guest at this event."

“The world of big data holds promise to benefit society in many ways,” said Brill.  “It is critical that purveyors of big data use these tools responsibly, as consumer trust will be integral to ensuring that big data has the opportunity to reach its potential.  I proposed ‘Reclaim Your Name’ as an effective means to safeguard consumer trust.”

The lecture will be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, on NYU-Poly’s downtown Brooklyn campus and will be streamed live at poly.edu/live. To submit questions during the lecture, e-mail using the address cyberlectureseries@poly.edu or by Twitter using @cyberlecture. For more information about the lecture, visit poly.edu/sloanseries.

During the conference, NYU-Poly will present the commissioner with a distinguished speaker award recognizing her leadership in consumer privacy.

NYU-Poly is an internationally recognized center for cyber security research, education and policy. It is a National Security Agency Center of Excellence in Information Assurance and a Center of Excellence in Research. NYU-ePoly, the online learning unit, delivers 20 online graduate programs worldwide, including NYU-Poly’s virtual cyber security program, which was named the nation’s best online program by the Sloan Consortium. NYU-Poly has joined with NYU schools to form the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Security and Privacy (CRISSP). The consortium researches new approaches to security and privacy by combining security technology, psychology, law, public policy, and business.

The NYU-Poly Sloan Lecture Series is funded by the Sloan Foundation’s Civic Initiatives program, which supports unique opportunities to benefit the New York City metropolitan area. The foundation supports original research and educational initiatives related to science, technology and economic performance.