The Emperor's New Clothes: Location Data and the Promise of Anonymization

Note: Presentation times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 9:00 am10:00 am

Moderator: Aaron Alva, Federal Trade Commission
Panelists: Brandi M. Bennett; Jennifer King, Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence; Beryl Lipton, Electronic Frontier Foundation


For years, organizations have banked on the promise of "anonymization" techniques and technologies to reduce the risk and liability of collecting or processing geolocation data. But for many technologists, the math just isn't mathing. This session will explore the regulatory and technical advancements driving location data into the privacy spotlight.

Aaron Alva, Federal Trade Commission

Aaron Alva is a technologist and tech advisor at the Federal Trade Commission. At the FTC, he advises the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and case teams on a variety of technology issues including data minimization and deletion, multifactor authentication, health privacy, and ad tech. Before the FTC, Aaron conducted research on a variety of topics ranging from cloud forensics to digital evidence admissibility to surgical robotics security. He is also a recipient of the NSF CyberCorps Scholarship for service for his joint Masters in Information Management and J.D. at the University of Washington.

Brandi Bennett[node:field-speakers-institution]

Brandi is an experienced technology and data privacy attorney who has worked for everything from baby startups to large multinational media and entertainment companies. Her privacy experience covers a wide variety of laws and jurisdictions from the EU to APAC to LATAM and North America. She was the first in-house counsel at a geolocation-based advertising network and analytics company, helping build their privacy program and working with NAI, DAA, and IAB codes and the EU Data Protection Directive. She helped a dating app (the only dating app she has a profile on, thank you very much) through GDPR, launched a Chinese social app globally (not TikTok) that ended up failing to launch, and took Endeavor and UFC through CCPA. She has also been the lead privacy counsel for Legends, which operates stadiums, ecommerce, and brick and mortar retail for major sports and entertainment franchises globally. Brandi is licensed in California and a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (2008).

Jennifer King, Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Jennifer King is the Privacy and Data Policy Fellow at the Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. An information scientist by training, Dr. King is a recognized expert and scholar in information privacy. Sitting at the intersection of human-computer interaction, law, and the social sciences, her research examines the public’s understanding and expectations of online privacy as well as the policy implications of emerging technologies. Most recently, her research explored alternatives to notice and consent (with the World Economic Forum), the impact of California’s new privacy laws, and dark patterns. Her past work includes projects focusing on social media, genetic privacy, mobile application platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT), and digital surveillance. Her scholarship has been recognized for its impact on policymaking by the Future of Privacy Forum, and she has been an invited speaker before the Federal Trade Commission at several Commission workshops. She has been featured in numerous publications and outlets, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Wired, Recode, National Public Radio, CNBC, Bloomberg, CNET, Vox, Consumer Reports, NBC News, MIT Technology Review, among others.

Dr. King completed her doctorate in Information Management and Systems at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. Prior to joining HAI, Dr. King was the Director of Consumer Privacy at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law school from 2018 to 2020. Before coming to Stanford, she was a co-director of the Center for Technology, Society, and Policy, a graduate student-led research center at UC Berkeley, and was a privacy researcher at the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at Berkeley Law. She was a member of the California State Advisory Board on Mobile Privacy Policies and the California State RFID Advisory Board. She received her Master’s in Information Management and Systems also from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, and her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine. Prior to entering academia, she worked in security and in product management for several Internet companies, most notably Yahoo!.

Beryl Lipton, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Beryl Lipton, Investigative Researcher, focuses her work on government transparency, law enforcement surveillance technology, and other uses of technology by government actors. She has extensive experience using Freedom of Information laws and large-scale public records campaigns in her research.

At EFF, Beryl supports the Atlas of Surveillance, The Foilies, and The Catalog of Carceral Surveillance, among other projects. She enjoys teaching others about the strengths and limitations of public records laws and discussing the potential and real harms of the surveillance state.

Prior to her work with EFF in 2020, she spent seven years as a projects editor at MuckRock, where she focused on prison privatization and other public-private partnerships. She is a board member for Spare Change News, the Boston area street newspaper, and contributes to Gannett New York, where she has spearheaded the collection and release of police misconduct records throughout New York state.

@conference {285593,
author = {Aaron Alva and Brandi Bennett and Jennifer King and Beryl Lipton},
title = {The Emperor{\textquoteright}s New Clothes: Location Data and the Promise of Anonymization},
year = {2023},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jan

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