Register Here for Spring 2022 Seminar Speaker Events

Note: You will need to register in advance via the link above. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the meetings.

Wednesday, May 4, 12:00-1:00 pm CST, via Zoom.
danah boyd, “The Politics of Privacy and the 2020 U.S. Census”

When the U.S. Census Bureau announced its intention to modernize its disclosure avoidance procedures for the 2020 Census, it sparked a controversy that is still underway. The move to differential privacy introduced technical and procedural uncertainties, leaving stakeholders unable to evaluate the quality of the data. More importantly, this transformation exposed the statistical illusions that have surrounded census data for decades. Efforts to leverage technically oriented privacy-enhancing tools have triggered a battle over uncertainty, trust, and legitimacy of the Census.

For most people, privacy is a value, rooted in the ability to control a social situation. Yet, within legal and technical contexts, it’s also a framework for determining the flow of information. This talk will grapple with the politics and fractures of privacy in the context of the U.S. census, highlighting how privacy has shapeshifted since the country’s first count and reflecting on what has become of privacy in our data-rich present. This talk will mix history, STS theory, and technical concerns, all presented in a way that is designed to be broadly accessible.

danah boyd is a Partner Researcher at Microsoft Research, the founder and president of Data & Society, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Georgetown University, and a Visiting Professor at New York University. Her research focuses on the intersection of technology and society, with an eye to how structural inequities shape and are shaped by technologies. She is currently conducting a multi-year ethnographic study of the US census to understand how data are made legitimate. Her previous studies have focused on media manipulation, algorithmic bias, privacy practices, social media, and teen culture. Her monograph “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” has received widespread praise. She is a Director of both Crisis Text Line and Social Science Research Council, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and on the advisory board of Electronic Privacy Information Center. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University, a master’s degree from the MIT Media Lab, and a Ph.D in Information from the University of California, Berkeley.

See our Spring 2022 Speaker Schedule for details and future events.

For information about previous speakers, see links to Fall 2021 and Spring 2021 event schedules.