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ITI Distinguished Lecture: Helen Nissenbaum: "Values in Design: Adnostic and TrackMeNot"

Event Type
Information Trust Institute (talk sponsored by Rockwell Collins)
B02 Coordinated Science Laboratory
Mar 15, 2010   4:00 pm  
Helen Nissenbaum, New York University
Originating Calendar
Information Trust Institute



Software and information systems can embody values, not only technical values such as efficiency, correctness, and elegance, but also ethical and political values, such as fairness, privacy, and security. The talk describes a framework, Values-at-Play, for guiding computer scientists and engineers interested in taking values into account in systems they design and build. I will illustrate the application of Values-at-Play to two systems, Adnostic and TrackMeNot, both lightweight Firefox extensions designed and developed with collaborators. Adnostic, a practical architecture and prototype implementation for enabling targeted advertising while protecting user privacy, performs behavioral profiling within the browser, leaking minimal information to third-party ad-networks. TrackMeNot, a tool for protecting privacy in web searches, automatically sends decoy terms to search engines, thereby obfuscating users’ actual searches.

Reception to follow in 301 CSL.


Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science at New York University, where she is also Senior Faculty Fellow of the Information Law Institute. Her areas of expertise span social, ethical, and political implications of information technology and digital media. Nissenbaum’s research publications have appeared in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. She has written and edited four books, including Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life, released by Stanford University Press in December 2009. The National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ford Foundation, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as several studies of values embodied in computer system design, including search engines, digital games, and facial recognition technology. 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.

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