Effectively and Efficiently Searching Among Sensitive Content

Talk presented by Douglas W. Oard, University of Maryland

When:  Monday, September 11, 2017

Time:  1:00 pm -2:00 pm

Where:  Kingsbury N101



In Europe today, people have a “right to be forgotten.” Exercising that right requires identifying each Web page that a person wishes to have removed from a search engine’s index. In Maryland today, people have no right to record what they hear in the course of a day without the consent of every person whom they hear. The law provides that the penalty for doing so could be as much as a year in jail for the first offence. In many jurisdictions today, citizens have a right to request information held by their government. Government officials who seek to sift through that information to determine which parts are releasable sometimes take so long to do so that the public purpose for which the request was originally made simply cannot be served. In this talk I will argue that each of these problems arises from the same cause: an almost complete lack of attention to building language technologies that can proactively protect sensitive content. I will further claim that the language technology for performing these tasks is well within the present state of the art, but that we will need to co-evolve the design of our information systems with the legislative, regulatory and normative public policy frameworks within those new capabilities would be employed. Finally, I will illustrate the considerations that arise by describing a new project in which we are seeking to integrate protection for sensitive content into a search engine that is designed to provide public access to collections in which sensitive and non-sensitive content are intermixed and unlabeled.

About the Speaker:

Douglas Oard is a Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park (USA), with joint appointments there in the College of Information Studies (Maryland’s iSchool) and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). Dr. Oard earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. His research interests center around the use of emerging technologies to support information seeking by end users. Additional information is available at http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~oard/.