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.
TechBriefs is a series of short technical bulletins by ACM’s Technology Policy Council that present scientifically-grounded perspectives on the impact of specific developments or applications of technology. Designed to complement ACM’s activities in the policy arena, the primary goal is to inform rather than advocate for specific policies. The first TechBrief is on climate change, focusing on the issue that computing can help mitigate it but must first cease contributing to it.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) hosted a HotTopics webinar session, "Policy, Profit, Privacy, and Privilege: the Post-Pandemic Future of Remote Testing Technology," on Nov. 15, 2021. The webinar proved to be a timely, deep dive discussion into the accuracy, security, and fundamental fairness to less-advantaged students of remote testing administration (RTA) systems, and what their future will or should be.
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee joined with the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and the Online News Association to bring together key stakeholders, experts, and thought leaders to discuss the future of deepfakes, disinformation, and democracy in a half-day virtual policy conference. View a recording of the conference, which occurred on Wednesday, June 2.
ACM's Technology Policy Council and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council sponsored a free screening and public discussion of the film "Coded Bias" and how those in computer science fields can address issues of algorithmic fairness. The discussion, held on March 29, 2021, has been archived, and "Coded Bias" is now viewable on both PBS and Netflix.
ACM Fellow Timothy Pinkston organized and moderated a panel on "Valuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Our Computing Community" held as a joint session of several co-located virtual conferences in March 2021. The panel included John Hennessey, David Patterson, Natalie Enright Jerger, Margaret Martonosi, Bill Dally and Kim Hazelwood. Watch a recording of the session and read a recap in CACM.
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.
Technology Policy Council Chair, James Hendler
James Hendler was appointed Chair of ACM's Technology Policy Council effective July 1, 2021. The TPC addresses global technology policy. Hendler is the Director of the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications and the Tetherless World Professor of Computer, Web and Cognitive Sciences at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute. He also heads the RPI-IBM Center for Health Empowerment by Analytics, Learning and Semantics. An ACM Fellow, Hendler served as Chair of ACM’s US Technology Policy Committee from 2018 to 2021.
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, Jeremy Epstein
Jeremy Epstein has been named Chair of the ACM US Technology Policy Committee, effective July 1, 2021. USTPC 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. Epstein is Lead Program Officer for the National Science Foundation's Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program. He previously served as Vice Chair of ACM's US Public Policy Council (USACM), a forerunner of USTPC.
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.
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.
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.