The emerging world of big data brings with it ethical, social and legal issues. Are you prepared to navigate the challenges and the opportunities?

The deployment of big data brings desirable opportunities to understand, recommend and advise. But the sensitivity of personal data and unintended consequences of algorithmic decisions present us with ethical and moral decisions. The annual symposium covers ethical and legal considerations for practitioners, including discussions and dilemmas of agency, fairness, public perception and privacy.

Event Details

When: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Where: Cream City Labs, Milwaukee, WI

Hosted by Northwestern Mutual, presented by the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute in cooperation with Marquette University's Center for Cyber Security Awareness and Cyber Defense.

Event Schedule


Event and Session Details        

8:00 a.m.


Registration and Networking

Hosted by Northwestern Mutual



Welcome by NM DSI Co-Directors

Keri McConnell, Purush Papatla, Thomas Kaczmarek



Our Students, Surveilled and Scored: The Responsibility of Higher Education Institutions to Act as Information Fiduciaries

Presenter: Kyle Jones, Indiana University-Indianapolis


Collect Data, Not Too Much, Mostly De-Identified

Kristin Briney, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee





Keynote: Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research

Presenter: Michael Zimmer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Letting Go of Your Data Exercise

Presenter: Joseph Coelho, Marquette University


Panel reflections on the meeting and questions

Panel Members:

  • Shion Guha (moderator), assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Marquette University directing data science degree programs
  • Keri McConnell, Senior Director at Northwestern Mutual leading strategic planning, direction and industry relations for Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute
  • Randall Kirk- Direct Supply, EVP and Chief Scientist leading initiatives Direct Supply initiatives in data science and organizer for the MKE Big Data Meetup
  • Kyle Jones, assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing
  • Kristin Briney, the Data Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Awakening to the Privacy Risks Associated with Big Data

Finally, the American public is starting to realize the privacy risks associated with Big Data.  The ability to push data through algorithms for predictive and analytical purposes is driving the advertising industry and providing marketing and business development professionals with new strategic directions.  The revelations about the Russian’s use of social media platforms in an attempt to influence the thinking and actions of millions of Americans was the Great American Wake-up Call.  

The furor over the collection and use of Facebook user data for political purposes has resulted in Congressional hearings, regulatory investigations around the globe, action by state attorneys general, and lawsuits.  The conversation is only beginning.  It is important that academia and industry take a lead in providing frameworks for the ethical use of data before legislators and regulators do it for them.  

There are lessons to be learned from ethical requirements associated with human subject data and work that has been performed by the cybersecurity research community.  This presentation examined these issues and presented potential pathways to balancing the productive and innovative use of Big Data with privacy considerations.

About the Guest Speakers

Keynote Speaker, Michael Zimmeris an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Zimmer has served as Director of the Center for Information Policy Research since 2012. He is a privacy and internet ethics scholar, whose work focuses on digital privacy, the ethical dimensions of social media & internet technologies, libraries & privacy, and internet research ethics.

Dr. Zimmer has published in numerous international academic journals and books, and has delivered talks across North America, Europe, and Asia. He has written for Wired, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post, and has been a guest on National Public Radio‘s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Science Friday, and Here & Now news programs. Zimmer has appeared in news articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, MSNBC.com, CNN.com, GQ Magazine, and various other national and local media outlets. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the American Library Association.

Kyle M. L. Jones is an assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing within its Department of Library and Information Science at Indiana University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). He studies information ethics and policy issues associated with educational data mining (e.g., learning analytics) and infrastructures. His work has been published by College & Research Libraries, The Information Society, and Learning, Media and Technology, among other journals. In addition to other projects on learning analytics, Kyle is the PI for the IMLS-funded Data Doubles project, which is investigating student perspectives of their privacy in relation to educational data mining and analytic practices.

Kristin Briney is the Data Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she advises researchers on data best practices, conducts regular data workshops, and consults on data management plans. She has a PhD in chemistry and a master’s degree in library and information studies. Kristin is an advocate for better data management and promotes best practices through her book, “Data Management for Researchers,” and in her own research on data policy and data management in academic learning analytics.

Joseph Coelho, is a graduate student in the Computational Sciences PhD program at Marquette University. He was a founding member of the planning committee and the catalyst for the first Symposium on the Ethics of Big Data. His research involves a study of the ethical issues involved in collecting data and bias in algorithmic decisions.

Shion Guha is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at Marquette University. He received a PhD from Cornell University and a MS from the Indian Statistical Institute. His current research interests cut across human computer interaction, computational social science, and privacy.


Additional Information

For additional information about this event, contact Dr. Thomas Kaczmarek at thomas.kaczmarek@marquette.edu or 414/288-6734.

This symposium is organized by the Center for Cyber Security Awareness and Cyber Defense and hosted by Northwestern Mutual. The organizers of this event would like to extend a special note of gratitude to Northwestern Mutual.  Northwestern Mutual is one of the sponsors of the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute, host for this meeting and a supporter of this annual event for several years.  Congratulations on your leadership and Thank You.

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