TrackMeNot: Politics Through Technology

Series: 
Fifth Annual Joint Distinguished Lecture Series
Speaker: 
Helen Nissenbaum, New York University and the Information Law Institute
Abstract: 

TrackMeNot (TMN) is a Firefox browser extension designed to achieve privacy in web search by obfuscating users'
queries within a stream of programatically-generated decoys. TMN protects users against data aggregation and
profiling by simulating HTTP search requests with queries extracted from the web.  Since August 2006, when the
initial version of TMN was made publicly available, free of charge, there have been over 330,000 downloads.  The
talk will briefly describe how TMN works but will focus mainly on political and ethical values that motivated its
design and development. It also addresses some of the criticisms leveled against it.

Speaker's Biography: 

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, where she is also a
Faculty Fellow of the Information Law Institute. Grants from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation,
and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have supported her research on privacy, trust online, security,
intellectual property, and several projects investigating moral and political values embodied in computer and
information systems, notably, search engines, video games, and facial recognition systems. She has produced three
books:  Emotion and Focus, Computers, Ethics and Social Values (co-edited with D.J. Johnson), and Academy and
the Internet (co-edited with Monroe Prince), and co-founded the journal Ethics and Information Technology. Before
joining the faculty at NYU Nissenbaum served as Associate Director of Princeton University’s Center for Human
Values and has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and the Center for the Study of
Language and Information at Stanford University. She earned a B.A. (Honors) from the University of Witwatersand,
Johannesburg, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford.

Date: 
Mon, 2008-02-04 19:00
Location: 
Wesleyan University