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When the founders of this Journal -- Cynthia Dwork, Stephen Fienberg and Alan Karr -- made its initial call for papers, they and we identified many constituencies that participate in the scientific analysis of privacy and confidentiality. Statisticians, particularly those working within national statistical offices, have developed the field of statistical disclosure limitation. Com- puter scientists contribute work in privacy-preserving data-mining and cryptographic analyses of privacy. Lawyers and social scientists study the role of government and regulation in the creation and protection of individual and business privacy. Health researchers struggle with the trade-off between a patient’s privacy and the contribution to science that access to inte- grated medical records might allow. Survey designers in all fields of human endeavor wrestle with methods of enticing survey cooperation under a variety of ethical and privacy guarantees. Gargantuan online services gather petabytes of data on search queries, online purchases, e-mail exchanges, and other social network interactions while pushing their computer scientists to exploit the corporate asset these data represent without damaging the companies’ ability to do future business by breaching the confidence of their client/users. And many, many data users from all of the fields listed above perform analyses that are conditioned on the privacy and confidentiality protections imposed on their work without all the means to assess the consequences of those measures on the inferences they have made.
We are certainly not the first journal to venture into this domain. But we are the first journal to solicit actively contributions from the entire community that are aimed at multiple constituencies within that community. We think that a brief illustration of how the research questions share a common theme would provide a useful introduction to this first volume.
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