What you'll learn

  • Understand the various attempts to define privacy and the ongoing conflict of privacy laws and norms within technology advancements

  • Review approaches to collecting, using, and selling data, including data privacy policies—and the impact on user protections

  • Analyze challenges related to the anonymization of data and the trade-offs between privacy and utility

  • Examine the price of personal data and the trade-offs between privacy and other values

  • Explore the impacts of emerging technologies on the future of privacy, protection, and law

  • Think critically about privacy issues from multiple angles, exploring policy, cultural, and societal impacts

Course description

Where is the line between the benefits of gathering information for public health and personal privacy? What about the balance between security and surveillance? Should data gathered about you be used to personalize the ads you see, or the prices you pay? As a decision-maker, you're constantly moving back and forth on a continuum, weighing the benefits and risks of using personal data.  

Technology isn’t value-neutral. In an age where more technology is incorporated into daily life at an increasing pace, the protection of privacy can often be an afterthought. Data Privacy and Technology will encourage you to think critically about the trade-offs and challenges presented by today’s ever-changing role of technology.

Through real-life examples with industry experts, policy makers, and privacy researchers you’ll explore legal and ethical implications of collecting personal data; understand who’s responsible for protecting personal data; and why antitrust and privacy laws are unable to keep pace with the rapid change in technology. Throughout the course, you’ll explore the risks and rewards of surveillance; examine the future of data collection, usage, and privacy; and the technology of personal data collection.

Privacy is a complex and multifaceted concept and this course aims to help you become a contributing member of privacy-forward communities, business task forces, and data-sharing practices. By the end of the course, you will be a better informed citizen of the Internet, be able to think about the trade-offs around data collection, and be able to lead your organization as it grapples with the interaction between big data and privacy.

Do you agree to enroll in this course? It's time to learn how to balance the utility of a dataset with the privacy of the individuals.



Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science and Chief Technology Officer, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science Professor of Technology Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University

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