Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Local Tech Invited to UCSC’s DataLex Symposium: Privacy, Big Data & The Law

By Liv Hassett and Michael A. Troncoso
UC Santa Cruz
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

September 17, 2015 — Santa Cruz, CA

We are inviting the Santa Cruz tech community to join this important dialogue at UCSC on October 13, 2015 at our first-ever DATALEX symposium on “Privacy, Big Data & the Law.”

Becoming a hub

It’s about time that Santa Cruz got its due as an up-and-coming tech hub. As more tech companies and leaders come to Santa Cruz, we have an opportunity to become a hub, not only for technical innovation, but for thought leadership on how to balance tech innovation with privacy and individual rights.

Ethics, law and policy in a data-soaked world is the critical next dialogue

In a world where everything is gathering data about us—our watches, our phones, our cars—the most critical technology issues aren’t merely technical ones. Everything and everyone is part of a constantly evolving and visible internet of everything. This fact is reshaping how we see ourselves and disrupting deeply held assumptions about privacy and control. How we navigate through the thorny issues of ethics, law and policy in a data-soaked world is the critical next dialogue in tech.

In lots of ways, there’s no place better situated to lead this dialogue than Santa Cruz. And UCSC is making an effort to start it here.

UC Santa Cruz has its Baskin School of Engineering, with powerhouse programs in data science, computer engineering, and genomics. We also have an array of leading social justice thinkers and humanists who have rich views on how technology isn’t just about creating neutral data sets, but how the way we create and interpret data about ourselves and others has very real consequences for our privacy and ability to participate in decisions about our own lives.

Automatic warnings

There are data analytics solutions today that can automatically warn you, for example, when your star employee is going to quit his or her job and how to retain him or her. Perhaps more relevantly, when your not-so-great employees might quit. Could the program help nudge the underperformers out the door? If you’re one of those unfortunates, you might want to know how the system decided you fell into that category and, more importantly, whether there was anything you could do about it.

It isn’t science fiction

In health care, we’re in the middle of a revolution, based on the rapid advance of genome sequencing and our now-granular insights into how our genetic profiles influence our traits and how the course of disease or treatments might play out for us. In coming years (not decades), it could be malpractice to treat a serious disease with a one-size-fits-all treatment that isn’t genetically tailored to me and the genetic profile of my particular disease. This isn’t science fiction. Researchers at UCSC are interrogating these issues right now.

But every advance has a cost. There are concerns about privacy and fairness with the use of such sensitive information about individuals and how it might be used in the future.

To tackle these thorny issues, we can’t just turn to technical experts, because the issues are not just technical, and we certainly can’t just turn to the lawyers or ethicists for guidance. We need a holistic dialogue, joining experts from all facets of these issues together in a dynamic dialogue.

We are inviting the Santa Cruz tech community to join this important dialogue at UCSC on October 13, 2015 at our first-ever DATALEX symposium on “Privacy, Big Data & the Law.”

At DataLex, we are bringing some of the world’s leading thinkers in law, data science, and tech together to discuss and debate these emerging legal and ethical challenges arising from the use of Big Data.

Panelists will include:

  • Travis LeBlanc, Chief of Enforcement, Federal Communications Commission, who has been called the “Sheriff of the Internet” for his pivotal role in policing information practices and privacy on the public Internet;
  • Jim Dempsey, Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and a Presidential appointee to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, that oversees the treatment of individual privacy in the execution of our nation’s counterterrorism activities;
  • Dr. Atul Butte, MD, PhD, Director, UCSF Institute for Computational Health Sciences, one of the nation’s leading precision medicine researchers;
  • Barbara Evans, Professor of Law, University of Houston & Baylor College of Medicine, perhaps the nation’s leading bioethicist and theorist on genetics research using big data;
  • Lise Getoor, Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Santa Cruz;
  • Current and former senior officials from the California Attorney General’s office and the United States Department of Justice, who will share their perspectives on regulatory enforcement in this space.

We invite lawyers, researchers, data scientists, engineers, privacy officers, product developers, and all techies to join our distinguished guests at DataLex. We are capping attendance at approximately 100 researchers and practitioners to facilitate an immersive dialogue with the direct engagement of attendees in the audience.

DataLex is part of Data Science Week at UCSC. The very following day, October 14, the School of Engineering is holding its Research Review Day 2015, which will highlight some of the groundbreaking research in Data Science, Technology Management and Nanopore. This broad view of the exciting research being undertaken will shine a light on the technology and include leading-edge presentations on recommender systems, melding recent algorithmic approaches with economic theory, and dramatic advances in biomedical engineering.

Register now

Register here for our Data Science Week, and we hope to see you up on the Hill to launch Santa Cruz into the global dialogue on Big Data.

UC Santa Cruz thanks its DataLex sponsors:

  • Hogan Lovells LLP
  • Venable LLP
  • University of California Office of General Counsel
  • UCSC/Silicon Valley University Extension
  • UCSC Baskin School of Engineering
  • UC Hastings College of the Law, Institute for Innovation


Liv Hassett is Associate Campus Counsel at UCSC, where she specializes in data governance, privacy, and transactional matters, among other areas. Michael A. Troncoso is Chief Campus Counsel at UCSC. He has a special emphasis on cybersecurity, privacy law, and health care information and technology matters. He previously served as chief counsel and chief of public policy in the California Attorney General’s office.


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