Annual Cooley Law Review Symposium uncovers shocking lack of legal framework for data mining

Cooley Law School presented its annual Law Review Symposium Sept. 22, 2011. The event, “Who’s Mining Your Business: Privacy Infringement and Profits,” brought together experts in the field from around the country. Speakers talked about the process of data mining, how third parties collect and use the information, and the legal impact and appropriate responses to these practices.

Monique Howery, Symposium Editor for the Law Review, said, “The Law Review chooses topics that are current and of interest to both students and practitioners. Data mining as a topic was particularly timely and relevant given the global trend of social media and the impact this trend has had on consumers and companies.”

After learning about the prevalence and breadth of data sharing and data mining in contemporary society, both the experts and participants concluded that the law is simply behind.  The panel encouraged the attendees to consider the appropriate legal responses to what Andreas Weigend called the “Social Data Revolution.”

The news about the state of the data industry was disconcerting to many participants.

“It was scary to hear about how much data we share about ourselves every day and how little privacy protection the law truly affords,” noted Cooley Law School Assistant Professor Derek Witte, who moderated the panel. “At the same time, we learned that, in the right hands, this social data revolution could be used to build a better future for everyone.  For lawyers and regulators, the work is really just beginning on this issue.”

The panel of experts consisted of Chris Clifton, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University; Jason Shinn, an Internet attorney who works with businesses; Dick

De Veaux, an expert in applied statistics, author, and member of the faculty at Williams College in Massachusetts; and Andreas S. Weigend, a behavioral marketing expert who teaches Data Mining and E-Business at Stanford University in California, and The Digital Networked Economy at Tsinghua in Beijing, China. Weigend delivered his presentation and participated in the panel discussion through Skype.

Howery commented, “We made a great choice in our selection of speakers. They were dynamic and entertaining, and helped make the topic meaningful and useful to attendees. We are thrilled and honored that they agreed to be a part of our event. And we couldn’t have asked for a better moderator. Professor Witte’s insight and ability to focus the discussion was invaluable.”