Colloquia 2019-2020 | Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier

Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier


The growth in availability of digital data resources is changing university practice in more ways than most faculty, administrators, and students are aware. Researchers provide open access to their data as a condition for obtaining grant funding or publishing results in journals, leading to an explosion of available scholarly content. Universities have automated many aspects of teaching, instruction, student services, libraries, personnel management, building management, and finance, leading to a profusion of discrete data about the activities of individuals.

Many of these data, both research and operational, are outside the purview of government privacy regulations that apply to personally identifiable information, student records, or medical records. Universities see great value in these data for learning analytics, faculty evaluation, strategic decisions, and other sensitive matters. Commercial entities, governments, and private individuals also see value in these data and are besieging universities with requests for access. These conflicts pose challenges in balancing obligations for stewardship, trust, privacy, confidentiality – and often academic freedom – with the value of exploiting data for analytical and commercial purposes. This talk, based on a recent article in the Berkeley Law and Technology Journal , draws on the pioneering work of the University of California in privacy and information security, data governance, and cyber risk.



Christine Borgman - Picture

Christine L. Borgman is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA and the author of more than 250 publications in communication, information studies, computer science, and law. Her three monographs from MIT Press have won the American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World, 2015) and Best Information Science Book of the Year award from the American Society for Information Science and Technology (Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (2007); and From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World (2000). At UCLA, she directs the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures with research grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and other sources. She has held visitor posts at Oxford, Harvard, Lund, DANS, Budapest Economic Sciences, and ELTE, and currently serves on boards for the Library of Congress, Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Professor Borgman is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery. Other honors and awards include the Award of Merit (2019) and the Research in Information Science Award (2011) from ASIST, Paul Evan Peters Award from the Coalition for Networked Information, Association for Research Libraries, and EDUCAUSE, and, and a Legacy Laureate of the University of Pittsburgh. She has keynoted conferences in the sciences, social sciences, computer and data science, medicine, law, and the humanities.