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tv   The Communicators Daniel Weitzner Mary Stone Ross on privacy  CSPAN  April 29, 2019 8:01pm-8:31pm EDT

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raise my family the way i want to and it's also a responsibility. i think it's important. you have to educate yourself to be un-american, making good educated decisions when you're at the ballot box >> voices from the road on c-span. >> coming up tonight on cspan2, the communicators features a conversation on the internet and privacy concerns. then senators pay tribute to former senator richard lugar who died this weekend. after that a discussion on us iran relations and later house veterans affairs committee looked into efforts to prevent veteran suicides . >> this week on the communicators, interviews from the state of the net conference annually in
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washington dc this week, some of the issues will explore include privacy, cyber security and artificial intelligence . and on "the communicators" we want to introduce you to daniel weitzner, first m.i.t. professor, before you professor of massachusetts institute of technology. where you were you and what were you doing? >> i've been a m.i.t. for 20 years since 1998. i came to m.i.t. from the electronic frontier foundation and the center for democracy and technology, both of which i helped get off the ground here. nacvely in 1998 i thought we had finished with all the interesting internet policy issues . i went up to m.i.t. again to work with tim berners-lee who is inventor of the world wide web on a bunch of interesting technical questions on computer science. i tookfour years off , from m.i.t. and was deputy chief technology officer in the obama white house and worked
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on issues of privacy and cyber security, global reflow information. >> in those four years what do you think you accomplished? >> i think we did some combination of certainly helping the federal government make better use of data and better use of online systems to provide better services to citizens and to work more efficiently. i think that i spent a lot of time on what was then called the consumer privacy bill of rights so we spent a lot of time raising the issues of what, how should we think about privacy, what kind of new privacy protections do we need in the digital age. we worked very closely with the federal trade commission and got a lot of executive branch agencies to launch new privacy initiatives. we didn't get congress to pass new privacy law but they're back to that now so i remain optimistic .
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i think we in a lot of ways overall raise the profile of internet policy issues and got policymakers and the general public i think to realize that these are no longer needs issues, these are issues that affect everyone every day, issues of privacy, cyber security and the way we internet govern globally to make sure it's a venue for information, free flow of information and protects the human rights values. >> you have a liberal arts degree and a law degree, how did you get into this? >> i got in early. most of my research now is in computer science. it's in building systems, signing systems. i have the benefit of many great collaborators who are computer scientists so we work together on exploring what does it mean to build for example services on the
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web that are more accountable from a privacy perspective. how can we keep track of how personalinformation is used? how do we make sure there's these new intelligence systems being built and machine learning systems are explainable and interpretable . how do we make sure thatwhen they make decisions about human beings , human beings can come back and say why did you decide that about me ? why is that what my credit rating is? why did you stop me on the street in the suspicion of some crime weston arc we want to make systems more responsive to people who use them and that takes a combination of legal and liberal arts perspectives with an in-depth technical computer science perspective. >> so in today's world liberal arts is not necessarily dead yet? >> liberal arts is always at the center of the way we think about the world because it's about how people function. computer science is about how to build great systems that
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do great things for people but to understand what those systems should do, how they should interact with people you need a combination. i'll give you an example. where having an enormous debate around the world about privacy protections . i think everyone's recognized that we need more robust privacy protections. we want to make sure first and foremost that people feel comfortable using all these great new systems without feeling a chilling effect on their behavior . people i think largely recognize there's lots of advertising, lots of profiling but if that goes too far and it starts to get people to retreat from conversations about online, to retreat from online political activity, then we will have failed but in order to craft policy just to meet that one important privacy policy goal we have to study how people interact with systems. we have to look at what people do with their app's,
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with their smart phones and all the various services they use and in computer science it's good at that, we have a whole discipline called human computer interaction which we've traditionally used to make sure that we're designing user interfaces that are easy to use or that people understand that we can apply those techniques to try to understand what should privacy rules be?how should we approach cyber security? how can we make sure people can control their personal information and howdo we make laws in that framework to enhance that kind of individual control and that kind of protection .>> professor white stir,this point without that protection , are we pretty much in the wild west when it comes to information being out there? >> i think we in the united states ought to pass a comprehensive privacy protection law while it's still in the gaps in our legal system butwe're not in the wild west . we have an active enteral trade commission that
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protects consumers from unfair and deceptive practices like companies that resulted in big fines for many of the internet, there certainly paying more attention to privacy. we should certainly make sure we do the same thing on cyber security. i think we're a little bit moreand a wild west situation it comes to cyber security , frankly because there, the risks are actually from the totally unregulated often extra legal actors, hostile actors were all around the world and the question in cyber security is are the people who are, are the services holding our personal information exercising enough care to protect that information? so we need more accountability there and also i think morelegal responsibility when things go wrong . i think when it comes to privacy, i don't think we're in a wild west, i think we're in still a immature and
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somewhat confused conversation. i do think regulators are trying to figure out what protections do individuals need, policymakers, people on the hill are trying to figure that out. and i think companies are trying to figure out what their users expect of them. but i think as we have more government engagement, i think those conversations will become more focused so you teach internet public policy at mit. what do youwant your students to leave with? >> it's a great question . i first of all what our students to leave with the understanding that the internet and all this technology that we use is a work in progress. we can shake it to meet human needs, that's number one. and our students are great engineers, we teach them how to build things so i want
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them to know they can build things that meet human needs. and number two, i want them to have an understanding of the law and the public policy environment and the larger sociological and ethical context to be a real part of the discussion about what these systems should do, what does it mean to have a system that accountable, that's responsive, explainable . because our society has you know, centuries of legal and policy and ethical traditions that help us answer those questions and i want our students to be able to be able part of those legal and policy and ethical dialogues so that they can assume their responsibility in designing systems that meet the needs that we have in the world . >> we are moving full force, artificial intelligence,into algorithms , uncharted? >> so look, we all use algorithms every day and we've all used them for
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decades in many ways, when you go to search for a context in your smart phone, you're using an algorithm, when you ask google maps to get you directions from one place to another, you're using an algorithm. the stakes are higher now because you're talking about deploying automated decision-making capabilities, that is the ability for machines to either assist with decisions about people or in some cases unilaterally make those decisions about people and we need to understand more about how reliable those decisions are. whether those decisions are fair, whether they are treating people with dignity or not. we've had a long process as a civilization where we understand what happens when you walk into a bank, what it means to be treated properly. and some of that is just social behavior. some of that is following a set of legal rules like the
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bank can't say i'll lend to what people but not black people or island men and not women or to christians not muslims, we understand those things and we've worked them into our institutions and our legal systems and our ethics as a society. what artificial intelligence does is really two things, number one, it takes some of those decision-making processes out of human hands and human run institutions and puts them into machines but we sometimes have a hard time understanding and number two, almost paradoxically, it makes those decisions more transparent. but it makes a lot of biases that are inherent in our society today more visible. so some of the leading discussions that and debates we've had about fairness and bias in artificial intelligence have to do with
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using those systems in the criminal justice process. now, and there have been systems that have been used that have assisted judges withdecision-making , that have found to be racially biased. that is, the systems make recommendations that have bias in them but we certainly know that there's a lot of bad or legal system today, without any artificial intelligence at all that has those kind of biases built in as well so what ai is doing is actually getting us to look at those systems afresh and say our people being treated fairly and we now actually have more data to be able to evaluate those questions of fairness and ultimately i think if we do the right thing, if we make the right kind of moves, both in the way that we write our laws and the way that we design thesetechnologies, we could get out ahead of the game on this . we can give people more confidence that their treated fairly, we can give people effective avenues for challenging decisions when
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they ought to be challenged and confidence when they don't need to be. so these are ultimately systems that are used by people, they're designed by people, there ultimately used by people or by corporations or institutions, so no one should have any doubt that at the end of the day people are the institutions who have to be responsible for the decisions. our challenge in the way we deploy ai is to make surethat responsibility means something , that the decisions that are recommended by these really cool new systems have enough information around them that we can feel confident about what they're telling us to do. are we in an ai arms race with china or does it matter? >> we are certainly in a very complex competitive and collaborative arena in the ai
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marketplace. where two of the big players are the us and china. canada is a very big player two. france is a big player two. uk is a big player to so i resist a little bit the arms race notion, number one because the implication is that the main purpose of the technology is to hurt people or to overpower countries and i don't think that's the case. the main purpose of the technology is to provide social value and the chinese would say that as well as we would say that. so a lot of what we have to think about is how the world overall can benefit from the development of this new technology. how we canmake and it open to everyone.if we open to everyone, arising tide will lift all ships , china where worried about china , their
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comparative advantage will actually be limited by our efforts to keep the technology more open. but yes, we right now, china's internet ordinary situation, not unlike the situation us was in in the 90s and early 2000 with the explosion of the internet marketplace. we had in the us and then in other countries around the world a very unique set of circumstances that enabled the internet and the web to just explode into a new economic engine. china has that for a lot of these machine learning artificial intelligence technologies. mostly because they have a growing middle class. i have a lot of social and economic challenges such as the managed management of their large city that really needs the benefit of machine learning technology and other automatic techniques. so there's no question
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they're going to realize enormous benefits from that and at some point, they're going to want to bring technology out into the global marketplace. and that's where i think we're going to start to have a lot of really challenging questions. because their technology respect for privacy the way we expectedto, doesn't respect other human right the way we expected to, what happens when china persuaded a wholebunch of third countries , other developing countries that they should adopt a social score in the way that china has started to adopt . those are going to be i think the real competitive challenges that were going to have to face . >> would you use a wuawei phone? >> we all use technology that has chinese components of the question of whether it's wuawei on top, we are all dependent on a global supply chain for the digital
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services that we use and what we better be doing a lot more is making sure that we can trust that supply chain, making sure we can trust the behavior of these tools that we all need. regardless of where they come from. because we're not going to put up a big wall and say no, no chips, no cpus, no screens, no software from china, we're just not going back there. it would be inconceivable so were going to have to learn how to build a sense of trust that based on the technical characteristics of the system and the integrity of the supply chain overall, not based on what country it says it's made in riyadh. >> professor, how do you protect your own privacy online ? your information is out there like the rest of us. >> i'm a pretty open guy. i'll tell you one thing i do, i have a tablet that i use
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for reading. and listening to music, and watching the occasional movie and reading periodicals, but i don't have any social media on that. it's not connectedto a lot of my other accounts . cause i don't feel like everyone needs to know exactly what i'm reading or what i'm watching at any given moment . but that smokescreen. i know that my behavior on devices pretty easily connectable to a lot of other things i do and certainly to my identity so what i do is i am trying to encourage my students to be aware of privacy issues and respectful of them and i'm hoping that governments around the world will take that seriously too. we are so far past the point where individuals can be
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expected to protect their own privacy as if you're standing at your door of your long cabin with a shotgun. that's just notthe world we're in . >> you expect privacy legislation to pass these divided congress and signed by the trumpet ministration? >> i expect congress is going to have a really bigger debate aboutwhat to do about privacy . >> will that come to a conclusion in what is essentially a months? i think that's going to be tough. i think they have to do it though, like they could actually get done in this congress, otherwise they have no chance of being in the next congress. these are: any questions and they affect not just the big internet platforms, facebook and google but they affect numerous industries all through our economy and
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numerous institutions so it may take congress a little time actually think through all of those implications, but we should feel a sense of urgency about it. number one because we need to protect our citizens and number two, because right now , privacy is being defined with the next decade in brussels, not in washington dc. and i've always thought this europeans have made an enormous contribution to global privacy thinking and taking privacy seriously. there's no question that the gdp are and the european privacy laws for that had a huge effect on the behavior of us companies. so anyone who cares about privacy should be grateful to the europeans, but i don't think it's really right for us as a sovereign nation with a lot of different both economic and social and civil liberties values that are unique to us to just
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outsource all of our privacy policy making to the eu and it's probably not right for us to answer to california either. as much as they contributed as well. so i think we should feel a sense of urgency about it because the decisions matter a lot and they are to me made inour democratic process . not to say we're going to come up with radically different answers . within europe then they come up with because i don't think we will come up with answers that are appropriate to the us legal system, that fit our economic requirements, that our personality as a country and we need congress to do that. >> daniel weitzner with mit, thank you for joining us on the communicators. >> thanks for talking to me, i enjoyed it. >> this is "the communicators" on c-span, we're at the state ofthe net
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conference at the museum in washington dc , talking with people about privacy and cyber security and other issues that affect our world today. running us now is mary stone ross, she is a former president of the group called californians for consumer privacy which is what, ms. ross? >> we were the group behind the initiative that became the california consumer privacy act. we spent three years thinking about what privacy laws should look like for california. >> when it is law past and what was included. >> in 2018. so a lot of the elements that were in theinitiative are in the law, because all californians were right to find out what personal information companies are collecting about them . give them the right opt out their personal information and is the private right of access and the company doesn't follow press california law around coverages that require them to implement reasonable security to keep your
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information safe. >> how is it possible to stop a supporter of california comes to issues like that? >> the truth is i think most companies are going to end up getting the advice that californians really want to everybody, because we are now literally thefifth largest economy in the world . >> you got a system of americans. >> exactly. >> a lot of businesses are realizing privacy is actually good for business only want to be seenas on the right side of privacy . >> is this model that all on the gdp are, the european gdr? >> we have a lot of different influences. our different parts of the framework because we have such a strong first amendment right here. we were mindful of not getting to infringe on the first amendment rights of citizens but there was lots of legislation that passed through washington many years ago but unfortunately nothing
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was successful. >> what sparked your interest in the system? >> i have an unusual background as a privacy advocate. i used to be an analyst at the cia and i was also counsel on the house intelligence committee so when i started this three years ago i tried to frame the problem and figure out how much where these companies are collecting on that. what i couldn't find out terrified me and it was surprising to me because i saw the reaction of the public after edward snowden came out and leapt about the nsa wiretapping surveillance program. you had all these private companies collecting more information on the government and yet there was absolutely no way to find out what they were doing let alone set standards of what should be done with that information. >> how much of your personal information is out there? >> you only find out when you
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have cambridge analytica or a data breach but really we don't know which is why any law that passes needs to start with transparency. i need to be able to know what a company is collecting on me though i can make an informed decision on whether or not touse their services . >> such as? >> such as are you collecting my biometric information or as an example, there was a flashlight app that was collecting all your precise location information. right now i'm a lawyer and i have so many different privacy policy and they're clearly not meant to inform the consumer about what information is collected and how that information is going to be used so we need to have meaningful and said so a consumer can make a decision about using a product. >> what about the confusion that 50 separate state laws and then created?
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>> i understand that but i don't think there would have been a law in california and we not had this initiative . we were in the hammer that got everybody to the table and truthfully it was past due so we'll see. maybe california can be the hammer to get washington to agree to something and put a national standardtogether . >> mary stone ross, you are here in washington, are you protected under california law ? >> i am because i'm seen as california consumer so if my information was collected here, because i am californian, it just now when the law is in effect i will be protected. >> what have you heard from the new congress as a democratic house and a republican senate? >> there's so many different bills flying around there right now so we will see her all the pieces sort out in the end. >> senator marsha blackburn has been active on this issue, republican of tennessee. what you think of her legislation?
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>> i haven't looked at her legislation carefully but i hope to participate in this conversation because i live privacy for three years and one of the things i think was good about the california bill is that we balance business interests and collecting and using information on the california laws , we started with the company can collect information and they can use it internally, as much as they want to, they just have to tell theconsumer what they're collecting and if i say don't sell my information they have to honor that request . >> mary stone ross is the co-author of the consumer privacy act, former president of californians for consumer privacy . >> for having me. >> ones, tv was three different giant networks and a supported service called pbs, then in 1979, a small network with an unusual name rolled out a big idea. viewers decide on their own what wasimportant to them . c-span open the door to the washington policymaking for all to see. bring you unfiltered content
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