2016 - 2018 Big Data Initiative on Privacy and Security


The Big Data Initiative on Privacy and Security is a collaboration of DIMACS and the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub to catalyze both foundational and practical advances in privacy and security for big data.

Security and privacy play a key role in areas such as health, energy, and smart cities, as well as constituting a grand challenge in and of themselves. Privacy and security are critical for realizing Big Data’s promise to advance society. If data are used without regard to privacy of individuals or protection of the data, then individuals may be hurt. If the data’s authenticity is not guaranteed, or if data are not permitted to be used at all due to privacy and security concerns, then the data’s value is not realized. As the information that is collected about us grows in quantity, scientific and commercial value, and sensitivity, addressing these challenges is crucial to accessing the benefits of big data while ensuring that privacy and associated basic rights such as free speech and association are respected.

The Big Data Initiative on Privacy and Security is a planning project associated with the National Science Foundation’s BD Spokes program. The Initiative seeks to lay the groundwork for advancing progress in privacy and security of big data by catalyzing research on methods to keep data secure on a large scale while also keeping it sufficiently available, guaranteeing its authenticity, and ensuring that privacy of individuals whose data is involved is respected.

As a first step toward this goal, the Initiative will organize and host workshops to develop a research agenda on privacy and security for big data and to build a community of people who will work together and separately to advance this research agenda by proposing regional activities in security and privacy related to the Northeast BD Hub and by catalyzing new partnerships and proposals.

The workshops each combine technical questions, specific to individual disciplines, with broader questions that require the involvement of multiple disciplines and a wide range of organizations. Key aspects of each workshop will include:

The long-term vision of the project is to catalyze both foundational and practical advances in privacy and security for big data that will positively impact society by (1) expanding the extent to which individuals can have control over and confidence in the protection of their personal data, and (2) enabling data to be harnessed for advances in areas including health, energy, smart cities and regions, finance, and education.

Read a DIMACS news highlight about the Initiative here.

Initiative Leaders:

René Bastón, liaison to the NE Big Data Innovation Hub, Columbia University
Adam Smith, Boston University
Rebecca Wright, Rutgers University

Opportunities to Participate:

Join the Mailing List:

If you would like to receive updates and announcements about future activities you can subscribe to the mailing list for the Big Data Initiative on Privacy and Security. Alternatively, you can contact the DIMACS Publicity Coordinator and ask to be placed on the SF-BDPrivacy mailing list.


The Big Data Initiative on Privacy and Security is held in cooperation with the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub. It is supported by DIMACS and its partners, and by the National Science Foundation under grant number IIS-1636764.
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Document last modified on September 19, 2017.