Against inexorable machinations of data surveillance, analysis, and profiling, data obfuscation holds promise of relief. Whether it can withstand countervailing analytics is an intriguing question; whether it is unethical, illegitimate, or, at best, ungenerous cuts close to the bone. Yet, as NYU’s Helen Nissenbaum argues in this talk, obfuscation is a compelling “weapon-of-the-weak,” which deserves to be developed and strengthened, its moral challenges countered and mitigated.
Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science, at New York University, where she is also Director of the Information Law Institute. Her work spans social, ethical, and political dimensions of information technology and digital media. She has written and edited five books, including Values at Play in Digital Games, with Mary Flanagan (forthcoming from MIT Press, 2014) and Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford University Press, 2010) and her research publications have appeared in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. The National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ford Foundation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as several studies of values embodied in computer system design, search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.
Nissenbaum holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Before joining the faculty at NYU, she served as Associate Director of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.