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U.S. Launches Research Network for Privacy-Enhancing Technologies

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In response to the rapidly evolving landscape of data collection and analysis driven by advances in artificial intelligence, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have joined forces to establish a Research Coordination Network (RCN) dedicated to advancing privacy research and the development, deployment, and scaling of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs).

This initiative, which fulfils a mandate from the “Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence,” aims to advance the recommendations in the National Strategy to Advance Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing and Analytics. The goal is to move towards a data ecosystem where the beneficial power of data can be unlocked while protecting privacy.

“This crucial investment represents our commitment to advancing the foundations of responsible AI and privacy-enhancing technologies,” said Dilma DaSilva, who serves as an assistant director for NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate. “This effort supports research and development that enables individuals and society to benefit equitably from the value derived from privacy-preserving data sharing and analytics.”

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of DOE’s Office of Science, emphasised the increasing importance of privacy-enhancing technologies in today’s data-driven landscape. “Privacy-enhancing technologies allow us to safeguard sensitive datasets and information needed to advance a broad research, development, and demonstration portfolio,” she said. “This Research Coordination Network will help us move toward the shared goal of establishing new data safety and security standards that will allow us to continue to develop the innovations and scientific discoveries we need to achieve our clean energy and industrial goals.”

Through this initiative, RCN also brings together experts from academia, industry, and government to support the development, deployment, and scaling of PETs. These crucial technologies enable data analysis while safeguarding individual privacy and addressing concerns arising from the increasing sophistication of data analysis techniques.

One of the primary goals of the RCN is to address the barriers to the widespread adoption of PETs, including regulatory considerations. By convening multidisciplinary, cross-sector, and international expert groups, the RCN aims to understand the risks of data sharing and analytics for marginalised and vulnerable groups. Central to the RCN’s mission is examining various mechanisms for deploying PETs, including research, technological innovations, regulatory measures, and standards and certifications. The team will prioritise use cases for PETs that support privacy-preserving machine learning and those essential for federal agencies to ensure the equitable use of AI.

With support from NSF and DOE, the RCN will drive meaningful progress in developing and deploying PETs, laying the foundation for a more privacy-conscious approach to data sharing and analytics in an era defined by rapid technological advancement.

The RCN’s work is particularly timely as society grapples with the challenges and opportunities presented by the proliferation of AI and data-driven technologies. The ability to harness the power of data for societal benefit while respecting privacy and individual rights is a key focus of the RCN. “By fostering collaboration and innovation in privacy-enhancing technologies, the RCN aims to shape a future where data can be shared and analysed responsibly, unlocking new insights and capabilities while protecting privacy and promoting equity,” Asmeret said.

Moreover, the RCN’s efforts will also contribute to discussions on broader data governance and privacy regulation. As governments and organisations worldwide seek to establish frameworks for responsible AI and data use, the insights and recommendations generated by the RCN will be invaluable in shaping policy and best practices.

Establishing the RCN marks a significant milestone in advancing privacy research and developing PETs in the United States. The RCN is well-positioned to drive substantial progress in this critical area by convening experts from various disciplines and sectors. In an era of rapid technological advancement, society faces challenges and opportunities in the digital age. The work of the RCN will play a crucial role in shaping a future where data can be utilised responsibly and ethically, ultimately benefiting all individuals and communities.


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