IOF Committee Kicks Off Preliminary Webinar on Advancing Demographic Equity with Privacy

Moderators Monika Hu (Vassar College) and Claire Bowen (Urban Institute) pose questions for the panelists Jerry Reiter (Duke), Tom Krenzke (Westat), Jenny Thompson (Census Bureau) and Amy O'Hara (Georgetown). This IOF was generously sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

On November 1, 2022 the NISS hosted an Ingram Olkin event featuring a very interesting preliminary look at the upcoming Ingram Olkin Forum on the topic of Privacy and Confidentiality that is planned for early in the new year - January 12 and 13, 2023.  As a preliminary event it is hoped that these speakers and the discussion that follows will energize the thinking and encourage wide participation in the Ingram Olkin Forum that is being planned.  As has been demonstrated in previous forums, the synergy of a wide array of experts and interests has been successful in bringing attention to and moving forward understandings related to this topic.

NISS Director, James Rosenberg opened the webinar and introduced Nancy Flournoy who reviewed the goals of the IOF by giving a brief history of the Ingram Olkin forum series which NISS has been hosting since 2019 beginning with the inaugural forum: Gun Violence: the statistical issues.

The speakers of this webinar event included: Jerry Reiter, Professor of Statistical Science at Duke University, Tom Krenzke, Vice President and Senior Statistical Fellow in Westat’s Statistics and Data Science group, Jenny Thompson, Senior Mathematical Statistician in the Economic Directorate of the Census Bureau and Amy O'Hara, Research Professor in the Massive Data Institute and Executive Director of the Federal Statistical Research Data Center at the McCourt School for Public Policy at Georgetown University.

The issues of privacy and confidentiality arise in all forms of data collection by government and federal, and state, and agencies.  Many federal agencies do not collect and/or release detailed demographic data due to growing concerns about disclosure risk.  All federal agencies have been asked to review and update their privacy protection methodologies. 

"There is a lack of communication among policymakers, privacy researchers and data practitioners about what data privacy methods should be taken and what their implications are."

Claire Bowen - Urban Institute

Rather than a series of individual talks, and speakers sharing slides, this panel discussion was expertly moderated by Claire Bowen, Urban Institute and Monica Hu, Vassar College, who are also the organizers of the upcoming Ingram Olkin forum to be held in January.  They first asked each of the speakers to tell a little bit about themselves and how they see their connection to the topic of data privacy and confidentiality and then followed this up by asking each speaker to talk about a recent project that they worked on focusing on the challenges they faced and the potential impact they perceived the project would have.  Several more in depth questions followed and from each of the speakers' responses you could immediately get a sense of the passion and committment they hold for these topics, methods and the importance of this work.

The webinar also received a number of very interesting and challenging questions from the audience which were also brought to the attention of the panelists.  The conversations that ensued tackled issues such as protecting privacy when small samples are encountered, the tension between usefulness and protection of data and advice for those early or mid-career thinking about getting involved in data privacy issues.

Please see the video posted with this news article below for all of the detail responses from this event. If you found any of this discussion even remotely interesting, don't forget to register for the upcoming forum in January, 2023 on the NISS web page for this event. The conversation can only become richer as more input and insights are gathered!

Below you can find a recording of this session.  Also, here is a link to the original event page.

Recording of the Session

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 by Glenn Johnson