Collaboration with Microsoft on an Open Source Privacy Platform

We at Social Science One are excited to share the news of a major new industry-academic collaboration. This is between Microsoft, Social Science One co-chair Gary King and Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science on an Open Data Differential Privacy Platform.

The goal of the project is to build an open source platform to ensure data can be shared privately, while enabling researchers across sectors including academia, government and the private sector to gain new and novel insights that can rapidly advance human knowledge.


Prof. King’s project with Microsoft will be closely aligned with the work of Harvard's Privacy Tools Project, a broad, multidisciplinary effort on data privacy issues led by Salil Vadhan (a member of Social Science One’s Privacy Committee). The newest endeavor of the Privacy Tools Project is OpenDP, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in which Profs. Vadhan, King, and collaborators will lead a community effort to build an open-source suite of tools for enabling privacy-protected analysis of sensitive personal data, focused on a library of algorithms for generating differentially private data releases.


Our efforts to share Facebook data with academics have drawn heavily on the differential privacy framework as a way of providing mathematical guarantees of privacy for individuals that may be represented in the data and statistical guarantees for researchers who will be analyzing the data. The availability of a widely available open source differential privacy platform would be a huge leap forward for this project and future efforts in industry-academic collaboration, and we will follow these developments with great interest. 


Here are links to the announcement from IQSS and Microsoft.