New research lab will focus on data privacy worldwide

November 18, 2009

Do you worry about the safety of the information you enter online when shopping or paying bills? Are you concerned that your employer has stored your social security number in the company's systems? A new research group at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is dedicated to making sure businesses know how to protect your data and implement the needed measures.

"Organizations must be committed to maintaining employee and customer privacy," says associate professor of information systems Julie Smith David from the W. P. Carey School of Business, one of the new research group's founders. "This is really becoming an issue in the board room, as well as at people's personal computers. We all want to make sure our data isn't inappropriately shared or sold." Download Full Image

The new Privacy by Design Research Lab (PbD RL) will establish a virtual environment to work with industry leaders to create guidelines for businesses worldwide to use to effectively protect personal data. The researchers will also encourage organizations to use the new guidelines by offering educational materials and programs to train privacy consultants. In addition, the researchers will continue to monitor and improve techniques for data protection.

"Privacy assurance must ideally become an organization's default mode of operation," says W. P. Carey School of Business associate professor Marilyn Prosch, another founder of the group. "This is the first Privacy by Design ambassador program in the United States, and we want to work with both the public and private sectors to make a difference."

The group is already demonstrating a commitment to working internationally to strengthen privacy practices. Ann Cavoukian, creator of the Privacy by Design concept and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, has been fundamental in establishing the new research group.

"I applaud ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business for its leadership role in establishing the first Privacy by Design Research Lab," says Cavoukian, who wrote two groundbreaking books on data privacy. "When technology and personal information intersect, privacy issues always arise. The future of privacy cannot be assured solely by compliance with regulatory frameworks. The objectives of Privacy by Design are twofold: for individuals, gaining personal control over one's information; for businesses, gaining a sustainable competitive advantage - It's win/win."

The Privacy by Design Research Lab will publish documents to help teach the business community about data privacy practices, including a risk assessment companies can use to evaluate themselves. It will also host monthly events with industry leaders, publish world-class academic journal articles, and hold a student contest to encourage new ideas on privacy practices.

Prosch formally announced formation of the PbD Research Lab at the 31st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Madrid, Spain, earlier this month.

The initial research project will create practical guidance from the principles of Privacy by Design to aid companies and entrepreneurs seeking to create new products and services to meet the privacy expectations of their customers. This work is funded by a grant from The Privacy Projects (">">, a nonprofit research institute focused on supporting "evidence-based" privacy.

"The mission at ASU fits perfectly with our intention to fund and promote an effective architecture for privacy," says Richard Purcell, executive director of The Privacy Projects.

The research lab will be run out of the Center for Advancing Business through Information Technology (CABIT) at the W. P. Carey School of Business, which fosters collaboration between industry and academics. The research group's next event will be held Nov. 24 at Arizona State University's Tempe campus to announce more details. Cavoukian will be the featured speaker.

Brian Williams receives Cronkite Award

November 19, 2009

People are confusing "tonnage" with knowledge when it comes to the crush of information available today on the Internet, NBC anchor Brian Williams said Nov. 18 at ASU's Cronkite Award luncheon.

“Facts matter less,” Williams told an audience of more than 1,200 journalists, public officials, students, faculty and members of the public who attended the Cronkite Award luncheon in downtown Phoenix. “We are all finding it is a heck of a lot easier to voice an opinion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than it is to go and report back home on what you find." Download Full Image

Williams, who has served as anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” since 2004, received the 26th annual Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He joins a list of honorees that includes Tom Brokaw, the anchor Williams succeeded at NBC.

The first person to receive the award since Cronkite's death in July, Williams reflected on the differences between Cronkite's era and today, starting with millions of blogs and Twitter accounts and “cable networks that agree with you from the moment you wake up in the morning.”

“All things civic, it seems some days in this country are being replaced by all things narcissistic – one of the changes in the time since Walter Cronkite ruled the airwaves and came into our homes,” Williams said.

Williams said he watched Cronkite from the time he was a child and always aspired to be like him. He called Cronkite his “North Star.”

Cronkite was ideal for his era, Williams said. 

“As icons go, Walter was unique," he said. "He was the right man in the right job at precisely the right time.”

ASU Executive Vice President and Provost Betty Capaldi presented Williams with the award after recounting a long list of his accomplishments, including four Edward R. Murrow awards, five Emmys, the duPont-Columbia University Award and the George Foster Peabody Award. He also holds six honorary doctorates.

His award-winning work has included coverage of Hurricane Katrina, which the New York Times called “a defining moment as a network reporter and anchor.”

In 2007, Time magazine named him one of the 100 “People Who Shape Our World.”

During his two-day visit to the school, Williams met with Cronkite students, visited the KPNX-Channel 12 newsroom and hosted “NBC Nightly News” from the rooftop of the Cronkite School on Tuesday night. He spent more than an hour Wednesday morning with students in the school’s First Amendment Forum, answering their questions and offering advice.

At the luncheon, Williams told the crowd that he sees one sign that more of those seeking reliable information are cutting through the clutter. His show’s ratings are up this year, exceeding viewership even during the presidential election.

“We don’t know why," he said. "We guess it’s because the difference is becoming sharper, and people know where to find us and they know what they’re going to get.”

And that's where Cronkite's values can guide journalists today, Williams said.

“It's all there if you know the difference,” he said. "There's journalism, and there is everything ending in 'lol.'”

Previous Cronkite Award recipients include TV journalists Bill Moyers and Jane Pauley; newspaper publishers Katharine Graham, Al Neuharth and Otis Chandler; television executives Bill Paley, Frank Stanton and Ted Turner; and newspaper journalists Ben Bradlee, Helen Thomas and Bob Woodward. Last year’s winners were Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil of PBS.

Cronkite News Service contributed to this report.