Recent Papers from TAP Scholars

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on January 15, 2021


Below are a few of the academic papers that TAP scholars have written recently. This short list is only a sampling of the tremendous volume of research and writing TAP academics engage in across a broad spectrum of technology policy issues. The papers below offer insights into some of these policy issues:

  • How artificial intelligence can be utilized to protect privacy.
  • The challenges of privacy and security in an interconnected world.
  • The unique antitrust challenges with digital platforms.
  • How reforms to the U.S. patent system could improve innovation.

TAP’s goal of promoting academic thought leaders and their research is aimed at generating substantive tech-policy debate. To this end, TAP strives to present works that are representative of the expertise of each scholar. Please know that the site does not presume to provide a one-stop repository of all the impressive and thoughtful scholarly papers produced by the experts highlighted on TAP.


The links provided with each title are to the articles’ snap-shot summaries that TAP writers have drafted. Each summary includes key takeaways and policy relevance, and a link to find an online copy of the full paper is also supplied.


Artificial Intelligence and Privacy


How can artificial intelligence be utilized to establish personal privacy decisions?


Informing the Design of a Personalized Privacy Assistant for the Internet of Things
By Alessandro Acquisti, Jessica Colnago, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Yuanyuan Feng, Tharangini Palanivel, Sarah Pearman, Norman Sadeh and Megan Ung
CHI '20: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper No. 262, April, 2020


Personalized Privacy Assistant (PPAs) will help users manage Internet of Things (IoT) device data collection. The best PPAs will learn from users and offer suggestions from unbiased sources. PPAS can help users manage large numbers of privacy decisions; in evaluating PPAs, users weigh their desire for control of their personal information against fear of cognitive overload.


Is it possible to respect users and their data while also using that data to train algorithms?


Using Data and Respecting Users
By Alisa Lenart and Marshall Van Alstyne
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 63, No. 11, pp. 28-30, 2020


Firms should make ethical choices in using data to avoid souring relationships with users. Three basic guidelines reduce risk and help maintain user trust: data should be collected and processed in ways that benefit the user; after data is used to train algorithms, it should be discarded; and, only masked data should be saved. Users should benefit from firms’ use of their data.


To read more from TAP scholars on these topics, peruse TAP’s issue-focused pages on artificial intelligence and privacy.


Privacy and Security in an Interconnected World


How can government agencies balance national security interests while protecting human rights?


National Security, Surveillance and Human Rights
By Katia Bouslimani and Theodore Christakis
Oxford Handbook on the International Law of Global Security, R. Geiss and N. Melzer, eds., Oxford University Press, 2020 (forthcoming). Written December 1, 2019


The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) often decides cases involving a conflict between human rights and surveillance systems intended to protect national security. Surveillance must be necessary and lawful. The ECtHR has approved some mass surveillance programs; and it will soon consider key cases involving facial recognition technology.


How requiring the transfer of data can be harmful in some ways and beneficial in others.


The Portability and Other Required Transfers Impact Assessment (PORT-IA): Assessing Competition, Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Other Considerations
By Peter Swire
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Research Paper No. 3689171. Written September 8, 2020.


“Portability” refers to transfers of an individual’s data from one entity to another, also called “data sharing.” Regulators often must address whether the transfer of data from one entity to another should be required, or prohibited. Mandating data portability can increase competition; however, it can also increase privacy and security risks.


Is it possible to standardize online consumer options for privacy?


“It’s a scavenger hunt”: Usability of Websites’ Opt-Out and Data Deletion Choices
By Alessandro Acquisti, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Hana Habib, Sarah Pearman, Norman Sadeh, Florian Schaub, Jiamin Wang and Yixin Zou
CHI '20: Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper No. 384, April, 2020


Privacy laws require websites to offer consumers options such as the choice to opt out of advertising or to delete account data. On many sites, these options are poorly labelled and hard to find. Websites should standardize and simplify privacy controls in order to help users complete privacy-related tasks.


To read more from TAP scholars on these topics, peruse TAP’s issue-focused pages on privacy and security, network, the internet, and cloud computing, the internet, and competition policy.


Platform Regulation


Why digital platforms require new methods from antitrust agencies to preserve the benefits to consumers and innovation but reduce harm from potential anti-competitive practices.


Digital Platforms and Antitrust
Geoffrey Parker, Georgios Petropoulos and Marshall Van Alstyne
Oxford Handbook of Transnational Economic Governance, Eric Brousseau and Jean-Michel Glachant, eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming. Written May 22, 2020


Digital platforms are at the heart of online economic activity, connecting multi-sided markets of producers and consumers of various goods and services. Their market power, in combination with their privileged ecosystem position, raises concerns that they may engage in anti-competitive practices that reduce innovation and consumer welfare. To address these concerns, the role of market competition and regulation is explored.


To read more from TAP scholars on this topic, peruse TAP’s issue-focused pages on network, the internet, and cloud computing and competition policy.


Patent Reform and Innovation


How reforms to the U.S. patent system could improve the incentive structures for technological innovation.


Reforming the Patent System
By Lisa Larrimore Ouellette and Heidi Williams
The Hamilton Project, June 2020


Three patent policy reforms are proposed that would improve the efficiency and transparency of the U.S. patent system: require U.S. patent applications to distinguish hypothetical experimental results (i.e., prophetic examples) from conducted analyses; mandate more transparent and standardized disclosure of patent ownership; and, increase uniformity in effective patent terms across inventions; and, increase uniformity in effective patent terms across inventions. These three proposed reforms address current failures of the patent system to accomplish three of its stated goals.


To read more from TAP scholars on this topic, peruse TAP’s issue-focused pages on patents and innovation and economic growth.