In September of 2019, Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) launched a large-scale collaboration with Microsoft to develop open source tools for differential privacy. The promise of differential privacy is that researchers can discover patterns in data while simultaneously providing mathematical privacy guarantees for survey respondents and others whose information may be represented in the data. We have made substantial strides in working with Microsoft on this cutting-edge technology.
The partnership with Microsoft has been focused on the building of the OpenDP initiative, a project that is engaging a community of collaborators in academia, industry, and government to build trustworthy, open-source software tools for privacy-protective statistical analysis of sensitive personal data. OpenDP is being incubated by Harvard’s Privacy Tools and Privacy Insights projects (at SEAS and IQSS).
Over the last year, we have achieved several milestones in this partnership. First, Microsoft has granted a royalty-free license for its differential privacy patents to the world through OpenDP. Second, we released, with Microsoft, OpenDP’s first end-to-end operational differential privacy system.