The winners of the 12th annual Future of Privacy (FPF) Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award ask big questions about what should be the foundational elements of data privacy and protection and who will make key decisions about the application of privacy rights. Their scholarship will inform policy discussions around the world about privacy harms, corporate responsibilities, oversight of algorithms, and biometric data, among other topics.
“Policymakers and regulators in many countries are working to advance data protection laws, often seeking in particular to combat discrimination and unfairness,” said FPF CEO Jules Polonetsky. “FPF is proud to highlight independent researchers tackling big questions about how individuals and society relate to technology and data.”
This year’s papers also explore smartphone platforms as privacy regulators, the concept of data loyalty, and global privacy regulation. The award recognizes leading privacy scholarship that is relevant to policymakers in the U.S. Congress, at U.S. federal agencies, and among international data protection authorities. The winning papers will be presented at a virtual event on February 10, 2022.
The winners of the 2022 Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award are:
- Privacy Harms, by Danielle Keats Citron, University of Virginia School of Law; and Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University Law School
- This paper looks at how courts define harm in cases involving privacy violations and how the requirement of proof of harm impedes the enforcement of privacy law due to the dispersed and minor effects that most privacy violations have on individuals. However, when these minor effects are suffered at a vast scale, individuals, groups, and society can feel significant harm. This paper offers language for courts to refer to when litigating privacy cases and provides advice as to when privacy harm should be considered in a lawsuit.
- The Flaws of Policies Requiring Human Oversight of Government Algorithms, by Ben Green, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, Harvard University, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society
- In this paper, Green analyzes the use of human oversight of government algorithmic decisions. From this analysis, he concludes that humans are unable to perform the desired oversight responsibilities, and that by continuing to use human oversight as a check on these algorithms, the government legitimizes the use of these faulty algorithms without addressing the associated issues. The paper offers a more stringent approach to determining whether an algorithm should be incorporated into a certain government decision, which includes critically considering the need for the algorithm and evaluating whether people are capable of effectively overseeing the algorithm.
- The Surprising Virtues of Data Loyalty, by Woodrow Hartzog, Northeastern University School of Law and Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society; and Neil M. Richards, Washington University School of Law, Yale Information Society Project, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
- The data loyalty responsibilities for companies that process human information are now being seriously considered in both the U.S. and Europe. This paper analyzes criticisms of data loyalty that argue that such duties are unnecessary, concluding that data loyalty represents a relational approach to data that allows us to deal substantively with the problem of platforms and human information at both systemic and individual levels. The paper argues that the concept of data loyalty has some surprising virtues, including checking power and limiting systemic abuse by data collectors.
- Smartphone Platforms as Privacy Regulators, by Joris van Hoboken, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam; and Ronan Ó Fathaigh, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam
- In this paper, the authors look at the role of online platforms and their impact on data privacy in today’s digital economy. The paper first distinguishes the different roles that platforms can have in protecting privacy in online ecosystems, including governing access to data, design of relevant interfaces, and policing the behavior of the platform’s users. The authors then provide an argument as to what platforms’ role should be in legal frameworks. They advocate for a compromise between direct regulation of platforms and mere self-regulation, arguing that platforms should be required to make official disclosures about their privacy-related policies and practices for their respective ecosystems.
- Comparison of Various Compliance Points of Data Protection Laws in Ten Countries/Regions, by Jie Wang, W&W International Legal Team, Kinding Partners
- China enacted the first codified personal information protection law in China in late 2021, the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). In this paper, Wang compares China’s PIPL with data protection laws in nine regions to assist overseas Internet companies and personnel who deal with personal information in better understanding the similarities and differences in data protection and compliance between each country and region.
- “Did you know this camera tracks your mood?”: Understanding Privacy Expectations and Preferences in the Age of Video Analytics, by Shikun Zhang, Carnegie Mellon University; Yuanyuan Feng, University of Vermont; Lujo Bauer, Carnegie Mellon University; Lorrie Faith Cranor, Carnegie Mellon University; Anupam Das, North Carolina State University; and Norman Sadeh, Carnegie Mellon University
- Cameras are everywhere, and with the innovation of video analytics, there are questions being raised about how individuals should be notified that they are being recorded. This paper studied 123 individuals’ sentiments across 2,328 video analytics deployments scenarios to inform their conclusion. In their conclusion, the researchers advocate for the development of interfaces that simplify the task of managing notices and configuring controls, which would allow individuals to communicate their opt-in/opt-out preference to video analytics operators.
From the record number of nominated papers submitted this year, these six papers were selected by a diverse team of academics, advocates, and industry privacy professionals from FPF’s Advisory Board. The winning papers were selected based on the research and solutions that are relevant for policymakers and regulators in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to the winning papers, FPF has selected two papers for Honorable Mention: Verification Dilemmas and the Promise of Zero-Knowledge Proofs by Kenneth Bamberger, University of California, Berkeley – School of Law; Ran Canetti, Boston University, Department of Computer Science, Boston University, Faculty of Computing and Data Science, Boston University, Center for Reliable Information Systems and Cybersecurity; Shafi Goldwasser, University of California, Berkeley – Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing; Rebecca Wexler, University of California, Berkeley – School of Law; and Evan Zimmerman, University of California, Berkeley – School of Law; and A Taxonomy of Police Technology’s Racial Inequity Problems by Laura Moy, Georgetown University Law Center.
FPF also selected a paper for the Student Paper Award, A Fait Accompli? An Empirical Study into the Absence of Consent to Third Party Tracking in Android Apps by Konrad Kollnig and Reuben Binns, University of Oxford; Pierre Dewitte, KU Leuven; Max van Kleek, Ge Wang, Daniel Omeiza, Helena Webb, and Nigel Shadbolt, University of Oxford. The Student Paper Award Honorable Mention was awarded to Yeji Kim, University of California, Berkeley – School of Law, for her paper, Virtual Reality Data and Its Privacy Regulatory Challenges: A Call to Move Beyond Text-Based Informed Consent.
The winning authors will join FPF staff to present their work at a virtual event with policymakers from around the world, academics, and industry privacy professionals. The event will be held on February 10, 2022, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM EST. The event is free and open to the general public. To register for the event, visit https://bit.ly/3qmJdL2.