Protecting Digital Privacy

ECE Assistant Professor Stratis Ioannidis is using Big Data to build a mobile advertising system while protecting digital privacy.

Source: News @ Northeastern

Stratis Ioan­nidis, a new assis­tant pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering, says that North­eastern is the per­fect place for him to delve deeper into his study of Big Data and dig­ital privacy.

As he puts it, “North­eastern is a world-​​class uni­ver­sity with a tremen­dous tra­jec­tory. It’s a won­derful insti­tu­tion where fac­ulty can make a sig­nif­i­cant impact.”

Ioan­nidis, for his part, wants to build the world’s best tar­geted mobile adver­tising system, a plat­form that presents highly rel­e­vant ads to con­sumers while simul­ta­ne­ously pro­tecting their privacy.

The ambi­tious project will build on his pre­vious work as a research sci­en­tist at two pres­ti­gious tech com­pa­nies in California—Yahoo! Labs, the “sci­en­tific engine” guiding the firm’s inno­va­tion, and Tech­ni­color, a world­wide leader in the media and enter­tain­ment sector.

In both posi­tions, Ioan­nidis focused on behav­ioral data mining, the con­tro­ver­sial computer-​​assisted process that allows com­pa­nies to per­son­alize Web con­tent and pre­dict the per­sonal attrib­utes of their unwit­ting cus­tomers. He was par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in studying the pre­dic­tive powers of seem­ingly innocuous dig­ital behavior.

Often­times people think that their online activity does not reveal any­thing about them,” Ioan­nidis explains. “But we’ve found that online behavior—the web­sites you visit, for example, or the social media posts you like and the movies you take an interest in—can be used to pre­dict your age, gender, polit­ical affil­i­a­tion, and many other traits.”

He says he looks for­ward to tack­ling the privacy-​​personalization conun­drum from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary per­spec­tive at North­eastern, where he’ll have the oppor­tu­nity to work with experts in fields ranging from machine learning to bio­med­ical engineering.

Pri­vacy is per­ti­nent to the med­ical domain as well,” Ioan­nidis says, “and that’s some­thing I’d very much like to explore.”

Related Faculty: Stratis Ioannidis

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering