"Internet Privacy, Social Networks and Data Aggregation" is the theme of IIT Chicago-Kent conference

Social networking is no longer just a pastime. For many, it has become a way of life. With more than 1.25 billion users on the five most popular social networking sites, the need to share information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google+ and other sites has become ubiquitous, necessary, addictive and, in some cases, disastrous. What happens to the information gathered and how can those who use the Internet protect their privacy?

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will present "Internet Privacy, Social Networks and Data Aggregation," a one-day conference that will feature a wide range of experts in the technology, legal, computer science, and information privacy fields who will focus on Internet privacy and the problems created by the intersection of social networks and the burgeoning data aggregation industry.

The conference will be held March 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the law school's Governor Richard B. Ogilvie Auditorium, 565 West Adams St. (between Clinton and Jefferson streets) in Chicago. Attendance is free of charge, but reservations are required. The conference is eligible for 5.0 hours of IL MCLE credit. A reception will be held at the end of the event.

The plenary speaker will be Harvard University computer science professor Harry Lewis, whose former students include Internet entrepreneurs Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. (Zuckerberg's web site, "Six Degrees to Harry Lewis," was a precursor to Facebook.) Other speakers include privacy researcher and activist Christopher Soghoian, who has been called a "Ralph Nader for the Internet Age" because he's exposed privacy flaws in Google, Facebook, and other companies; Carnegie Mellon University professor Jon Peha, who has served as chief technologist for the FCC and as assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Justin Brookman, director for the Center for Democracy and Technology's project on consumer privacy and former chief of the New York Attorney General's Internet Bureau; Jay Edelson, founder and managing partner of Edelson McGuire, LLC, whose practice areas include technology law, corporate compliance issues and consumer advocacy; and IIT Chicago-Kent professors Lori B. Andrews, Henry H. Perritt, Jr., and Richard Warner.

Among the issues conference participants will discuss are the economic and personal consequences of the ways in which social networks blur the lines between socializing and advertising; the legal remedies that have been effective in protecting online privacy as well as possible alternatives that are being proposed; and the "technological fixes" that could protect privacy on the Web. Participants will make recommendations for consumers, companies, regulators and courts on how best to protect individual privacy interests while fostering the rich flow of information.

"Data aggregation concentrates detailed private information about people in the hands of private entities that distribute the benefits and burdens of that information according to their own preferences, often with unacceptable results," says IIT Chicago-Kent distinguished professor Lori B. Andrews, one of the conference conveners. "Many people would be shocked to learn that one data aggregation company, Arkansas-based Acxiom, has a data base that contains an average of 1,500 pieces of information on approximately 96 percent of Americans." (Professor Andrews is the author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy (Free Press 2012) that includes a social network "constitution" that would protect ten fundamental rights and freedoms and safeguard the sanctity of our digital selves.)

To register or for more information, please visit Center for Information Society and Policy.

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