Data Is Abundant But Is It Accessible To Researchers?

By: Utsav Gandhi (ProMarket)

The Stigler Center, of which ProMarket is a part, recently held its fifth annual conference on antitrust policy and regulation. This included a hands-on discussion about the successes and failures of data access initiatives and the challenges that must be overcome if we are to share data while also protecting user privacy.

“We’ve never had more data than we do today,” said Stigler Research Fellow and conference co-organizer Filippo Lancieri, “yet, [maintaining] data access has never been more fundamental for understanding policy tradeoffs.” Joining Lancieri was a panel of academic researchers: Laura Edelson (New York University), John de Figueiredo (Duke University), and Lior Strahilevitz (UChicago Law), as well as founder of the data journalism outlet The Markup, Julia Angwin.

Edelson, a computer scientist, discussed her Cybersecurity for Democracy project. The project has studied a wide range of online content, from the real world harms of consumer fraud to election disinformation in digital ads. Her lab found anti-democratic content prominent in the 2020 election cycle, and she notes that little has been done to prevent that from happening again. Her team grapples with the question: How do we find this content and make it less prevalent? “With network problems such as these, data is the solution to studying how problematic content manifests itself in practice,” she said. Her l


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