Seminar, ACE Seminar: The use and (potential) abuse of privacy-preserving infrastructures

Speaker: Michael Veale

Date/Time: 17-Dec-2020, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Virtual Seminar



Privacy-preserving systems are moving from theory to headlines — often without as much experiences in “practice” as we might want. Of particular interest in this accelerated deployment is their collision with the platform economy, enclosed databases and operating systems. In this talk, I will draw connections between concerns that come at this intersection of privacy-preserving technology and the power to run a protocol, drawing on recent developments such as the DP-3T contact tracing system that led to Apple and Google’s Exposure Notification system (which I was a co-author of) and high profile efforts such as Google’s Privacy Sandbox. Privacy alone can’t take us where we need to go, particularly when it is understood narrowly as information leakage or confidentiality. I’ll start to paint a picture — and start an interactive discussion, I hope — about where privacy’s ability to curtail power ends, and what researchers need to consider beyond their existing paradigms of technology development and design.


Dr Michael Veale is Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation at UCL Laws. He researches a mix of law, policy, emerging technologies and human–computer interaction, publishing across law and computer science. Dr Veale has authored and co-authored reports for a range of organisations, including the Law Society of England and Wales on Algorithms in the Justice System, the Royal Society and British Academy on the future of data governance, the United Nations on AI and public services, and the Commonwealth Secretariat on electoral cybersecurity. Most recently, he co-authored the DP-3T protocol for decentralised proximity tracing for COVID-19 as part of a large consortium led by EPFL. He tweets extensively at @mikarv.

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