Friday, September 18, 2015

With 'Brandeis' Project Darpa Seeks to Advance Privacy Technology

Today, many companies, firms, and agencies are fighting for the average U.S. citizen’s privacy; some in protection of it, others not so much. Now, the Pentagon’s advanced research agency, known as DARPA (which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), has taken a side in that fight. Lucky for us, DARPA is now working on technology that aims to protect individual privacy and plans to support early stage research through a new program.

Acknowledging the challenge of getting technology, the legal framework, and public attitudes to evolve the way they need to, DARPA named the program “Brandeis”, after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who was a “progressive lawyer” and co-authored a very influential essay regarding the safekeeping of individual freedoms. The program is part of DARPA’s drive in the last few years to win researchers and entrepreneurs alike to work on their projects. While Brandeis is still getting underway, its list of universities and companies has been chosen, and though only a few have been publically announced, most are still negotiating their contracts. Overall, Brandeis is slated to run for four and a half years and will have a budget estimated to be worth “tens of millions of dollars” (Lohr).

Some of the technology and fields that DARPA is planning on funding research for are “advanced cryptography, a field known as multiparty differential privacy, and machine-learning software that can learn and predict a person’s privacy preferences”. Developing new technologies to protect the “free flow of data”, will also be a large step in protecting the data world, a vast compilation of data that “entire industries rely on [through] mining and marketing people’s data”. Once people become aware and able to control the extent of their digital footprint, not only can we begin to move ahead, but consumers can negotiate with providers, exchanging their data for free services. Though DARPA and its scientists do not see this as a final solution, they hope to develop “a new technical capability and society can decide whether it wants to use it” (Lohr).

I think that the article was very enlightening, but could have been used to point out a number of things. One of these things is the types of technology that Brandeis plans to fund, or would like to fund, giving researchers and companies a challenge. Another thing that I think could have been used to point out was the ongoing dispute over individual rights; although the article briefly covers DARPA and the U.S. government’s reaction to individual rights and privacy immediately following the September 11th attacks, there was not such a substantial amount that I feel the average reader would be knowledgeable enough to see how big a step this is for DARPA and the agencies who will benefit from the research produced by the Brandeis program. Finally, I wish that the article would have gone on more about the project’s vision for the future implementation of its research data, as the data’s implementation is just as important as its funding.

Works Cited

Lohr, Steve. "With 'Brandeis' Project Darpa Seeks to Advance Privacy Technology." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2015. < Main&contentCollection=Privacy&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body>. 

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