US Senator Encourages Use of ‘Privacy Enhancing Technologies’

US Senator Encourages Use of ‘Privacy Enhancing Technologies’


In a letter to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, US Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore. proposed the use of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) by government agencies in order to protect sensitive data.

“I write to remind the commission that new government databases, even if they are created for well-intended purposes, can both threaten the liberty of Americans and create an irresistible target for criminal hackers and foreign governments.  For that reason, I strongly urge the commission to recommend that privacy enhancing technologies (PETs), such as secure multi-party computation (MPC) and differential privacy, must be utilized by agencies and organizations that seek to draw public policy related insights from the private data of Americans.”

Differential privacy is a method that does not reveal personally identifiable information when querying a database; however, it requires a tradeoff between privacy and accuracy of the results.  More robust cryptographic methods like MPC allow secure and arithmetically accurate computations on data from multiple sources without revealing private data.

Presenters at the Sixth Meeting of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking discussed how advanced secure computation technologies are starting to be utilized in other countries such as Switzerland and are sufficiently developed for broader commercial adoption.