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Whenever possible, the university recommends that events and meetings continue to be held virtually; it is highly recommended that in-person events also allow for virtual participation by attendees who choose not to or are unable to participate in person. Any in-person events must follow campus policy for schools/colleges/divisions, and student organizations.

Virtual Seminar: Formalizing Data Deletion in the Context of the Right to be Forgotten

Speaker: Sanjam Garg

Event Details

Monday, October 26, 2020
4 p.m.

Abstract: The right of an individual to request the deletion of their personal data by an entity that might be storing it -- referred to as the right to be forgotten -- has been explicitly recognized, legislated, and exercised in several jurisdictions across the world, including the European Union, Argentina, and California. However, much of the discussion surrounding this right offers only an intuitive notion of what it means for it to be fulfilled -- of what it means for such personal data to be deleted. In this work, we provide a formal definitional framework for the right to be forgotten using tools and paradigms from cryptography. In particular, we provide a precise definition of what could be (or should be) expected from an entity that collects individuals' data when a request is made of it to delete some of this data. Our framework captures several, though not all, relevant aspects of typical systems involved in data processing. While it cannot be viewed as expressing the statements of current laws (especially since these are rather vague in this respect), our work offers technically precise definitions that represent possibilities for what the law could reasonably expect, and alternatives for what future versions of the law could explicitly require. Finally, with the goal of demonstrating the applicability of our framework and definitions, we consider various natural and simple scenarios where the right to be forgotten comes up. For each of these scenarios, we highlight the pitfalls that arise even in genuine attempts at implementing systems offering deletion guarantees, and also describe technological solutions that provably satisfy our definitions. These solutions bring together techniques built by various communities.

Bio: Sanjam Garg is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are in cryptography and security, and more broadly in theoretical computer science. He obtained his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 and his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 2008. He is the recipient of various honors such as the 2020 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and the 2013 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award. Sanjam's research has been recognized with best paper awards at EUROCRYPT 2013, CRYPTO 2017, and EUROCRYPT 2018.