Science-Based Expertise about the Challenges in Developing and Applying Technology
Technology is at the heart of some of the most pressing issues faced by society. Developed and deployed around the globe, new technologies – and our increasing reliance on computing and networks – raise concerns that stretch beyond national borders, going to the heart of how we live, work, and interact with one another.
Drawing on a membership that includes industry pioneers and leading researchers at the forefront of technology, ACM provides expertise and advice to policymakers, the media, and the public.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) hosted a HotTopics webinar session on Technology & Trust: Voting in the Electronic Age on February 11. The panel discussion was moderated by USTPC Chair Jim Hendler and included ACM technical experts Doug Jones and Barbara Simons, USTPC Law Subcommittee Chair Andy Grosso, and Brennan Center for Justice advisor Edgardo Cortés for a deep and audience-interactive discussion of voting in America and the technologies at its core.
US citizens who have a PhD in Statistics, Data Science, Mathematics or closely related field are encouraged to apply for the ASA/ACM/AMS/IMS/MAA/SIAM 2021-2022 Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. Focusing on data science in areas such as machine learning, data visualization and causal inference, the Fellowship offers an opportunity to learn about executive and legislative processes while lending statistical and scientific expertise to public policy issues. Fellows serve one year on the staff of a senator, representative, or congressional committee beginning September 2021. Apply by February 28.
ACM’s Europe Technology Policy Committee submitted comments to the European Commission on "Artificial Intelligence—A European approach to excellence and trust," which addresses the future of AI in Europe. The comments, submitted in questionnaire form, asked the Commission to rate priorities based on their perceived importance, such as skills and training; public/private partnerships; and financing for startups.
ACM’s Europe Technology Policy Committee has formally urged the UK government to assure that its National Data Strategy provide for datasets that are open, subject to multidisciplinary expert review, protected by robust risk assessment, and compiled in consultation with marginalized communities to assure their benefit to all sectors of society.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee filed a friend of the court brief with the US Supreme Court in the landmark case of Van Buren v. United States—the first time it has reviewed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a 1986 law that was originally intended to punish hacking. USTPC notes that the questions posed in this case have broad implications for data and computing scientists, as well as other professionals who use the internet and computing technology, particularly to access information posted online.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee has called for “an immediate suspension of the current and future private and governmental use of facial recognition (FR) technologies in all circumstances known or reasonably foreseeable to be prejudicial to established human and legal rights” in its “Statement on Principles and Prerequisites for the Development, Evaluation and Use of Unbiased Facial Recognition Technologies.”
ACM’s Europe Technology Policy Committee issued detailed principles and practices for the development and deployment of contact tracing technology intended to track and arrest the spread of COVID-19. The statement calls on governments that adopt such systems to choose "only those which... respect and protect the rights of all individuals; safeguard personal data and privacy to the highest degree technically possible; and are subject to scrutiny by the scientific community and civil society before, during and after deployment." Read the statement in Italian here and in French here.
ACM’s Europe Technology Policy Committee submitted comments to the Directorate General for Climate Action of the European Commission in support of the comprehensive and ambitious sweep of the Commission’s Green Deal. ACM Europe TPC strongly concurs with the Commission’s premise that realizing true energy efficiencies in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector will be critical to Europe’s success in meeting the Green Deal’s appropriately aggressive climate targets.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) has released a Statement on Security and Privacy Principles for Virtual Meetings in light of changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Statement urges urges virtual conferencing platform designers, hosts, and users to adopt eight key security and privacy principles that are intended to greatly heighten the privacy and security not only of conference participants, but also of any transmitted or stored data.
ACM’s US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) joined many of the nation’s leading experts in cybersecurity, computing, and science in calling on all governors and state election directors to refrain from using any form of internet voting or voting app system in the 2020 elections. The joint open letter includes a detailed analysis prepared by the AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues which clearly demonstrates that internet voting is not a secure solution for voting in the US.
US Digital Response is a volunteer-run, non-partisan effort to help federal, state, and local government with technology, data, design, operations, communications, project management, and more during the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative is calling for data scientists, front-end/back-end engineers, designers, engineering managers, product managers, user researchers, and others to lend their skills and expertise to the fight against COVID-19.
Technology Policy Council Chair, Lorraine Kisselburgh
Lorraine Kisselburgh, Fellow at Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS), was appointed Chair of ACM's Technology Policy Council effective July 1, 2019. “Government officials and legislators in nations everywhere are grappling with questions regarding the governance of technology, and the complexity of these technologies demands critical expertise. What ACM brings to the table is a deep bench of technical expertise to better inform policy, both nationally and globally.”
Europe Technology Policy Committee Chair, Chris Hankin
The ACM Europe Technology Policy Committee promotes dialogue and the exchange of ideas on technology and computing policy issues with the European Commission, governmental bodies in Europe, and the informatics and computing communities. Chaired by Chris Hankin of Imperial College London, the Committee engages in policy issues related to the importance of technology in boosting jobs, economic growth, competition, investment, research and development, education, inclusive social development, and innovation.
US Technology Policy Committee Chair, Jim Hendler
Chaired by James Hendler of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the ACM US Technology Policy Committee serves as the focal point for ACM's interaction with US government organizations, the computing community, and the US public in all matters of US public policy related to information technology. The Committee addresses issues in innovation, privacy, security, digital governance, intellectual property, accessibility, and e-voting.
Former ACM President Barbara Simons, who was also a founder of ACM's US Technology Policy Committee, has been appointed Chair of a special committee on election security with the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC). "I am very excited about the opportunity created by the appointment of a new committee of the EAC Board of Advisors on election security," Simons said. "In the policy arena, there’s no more immediate and important topic, and Barbara will lead this effort so well," said Adam Eisgrau, ACM Director of Global Policy and Public Affairs.
View a recording of a US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) panel discussion on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Panelists included:
- Mark Rasch, founder of the US DOJ's Computer Crime Unit and Cyber-Forensics practice and frequent media commentator
- Pam Samuelson, ACM Fellow, author of “Legally Speaking” columns for Communications of the ACM, and Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California, Berkeley
- Danny Weitzner, Chair of USTPC’s Digital Governance Subcommittee and Founding Director of the MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative
Andy Grosso, Chair of USTPC’s Law Subcommittee and former Assistant US Attorney, moderated. The panel, "Section 230: The Origins and Future of Online Content Control and Liability in the US," took place on November 18, 2020 via Zoom and was free and open to all.