CANSSI Hosting Panel at CSPC 2020

CANSSI will be hosting a panel at the Canadian Science Policy Conference titled “The Interplay of Official Statistics and Privacy”, which will be moderated by Don Estep, Scientific Director of CANSSI.

10:30 am – 12:00 pm EST Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Accurate and timely official statistics are needed by businesses, governments and all Canadians to make informed decisions and the development of sound economic and social policies. The challenge lies in finding a balance between obtaining the necessary information for these accurate and timely statistics and the privacy of individuals and organizations. In a world where data is now the most important resource how can national statistical organizations produce the accurate and timely information being requested but still ensuring the confidentiality of the data and the non-invasiveness of data collection?

View the CSPC 2020 program.
CANSSI’s session is number 135.


Donald J. Estep (Moderator)
Director, Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute

Don Estep is the Director of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute (CANSSI) and a Canada Research Chair in Computational Probability and Uncertainty Quantification in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at Simon Fraser University. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1981 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in 1987. During 1987-2019, he was a faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Colorado State University. At Colorado State University, Dr. Estep served as co-Director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Mathematics, Ecology, and Statistics from 2003-2009, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Mathematics and Statistics from 2006-2019, and as Chair of the Department of Statistics from 2017-2019.

Dr. Estep works in uncertainty quantification for simulations of complex models, stochastic inverse problems, algorithms for efficient computation, and stochastic modeling of multiscale systems. His research scope embraces theoretical analysis, development of algorithms, and application to scientific and engineering problems and he has strong interdisciplinary collaborations with research laboratories, companies and universities. Dr. Estep has delivered over fifty invited talks at meetings and over one hundred invited seminars and colloquia. He has advised 35 PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows and has been Principal and co-Principal Investigator on over $45 million dollars (USD) in grants. During 1993-1995, he was a National Science Foundation International Research Fellow. Dr. Estep was awarded the Computational and Mathematical Methods in Sciences and Engineering Prize in 2005. Dr. Estep was awarded a Jubilee Professorship from Chalmers University of Technology in 2013 and selected as a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2014. Dr. Estep was appointed University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University in 2017 and was awarded the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) at Simon Fraser University in 2020.

Active in professional service, among other roles, Dr. Estep served on the Governing Board of the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute from 2009-2014, Co-Organizer and first Chair of the SIAM Activity Group on Uncertainty Quantification from 2010-12, Member of the Computer and Information Sciences External Review Board for Sandia National Laboratories from 2012-2015, and Co-Editor in Chief (founding) of the SIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification from 2012-2017. He has co-authored several white papers and reports for the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Energy.

Amanda Edmunds
Director, Privacy Act Compliance, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC)

Since 2019 Amanda Edmunds has led the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s compliance work with federal government institutions – aimed at ensuring respect for institutions’ privacy obligations. This included investigations of a broad range of privacy practices by institutions, including the Office’s investigation, in 2019, of Statistics Canada’s collection of personal information from credit bureaus and its planned collection from banks. Previously, since 2012, Amanda Edmunds worked as a manager responsible for complaint intake and data breach investigations under Canada’s federal private sector privacy law (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act). In this role she led a number of investigations examining the collection, use, and safeguards of mass data, including the OPC’s investigation of the Ashley Madison data breach in 2016, and the Equifax data breach in 2017.

Prior to joining the OPC, Ms. Edmunds held a variety of positions within the Government of Canada, largely in the field of International Affairs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Relations from the University of British Columbia.

Anne-Sophie Charest
Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Université Laval

Anne-Sophie Charest is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Université Laval. Her main research interests lie in the field of statistical disclosure limitation. Her work focuses in particular on ways to measure privacy protection, on methodology for non-disclosive statistical analysis, and on procedures for sharing statistical output and data while offering privacy protection for respondents. She is a member of the Big Data Research Center at Université Laval and participates in its Confidentiality, ethics and social acceptability subgroup.

Eric Rancourt
Director General, Modern Statistical Methods and Data Science Branch, Statistics Canada

Eric Rancourt is Director General of the Modern Statistical Methods and Data Science Branch at Statistics Canada. He has worked at Statistics Canada for 30 years and has occupied several roles such as Director General of Strategic Data Management, Director of International Cooperation, Director of Corporate Planning, Head of research, Production manager of Survey Methodology Journal, and researcher. His main areas of work have been on treatment of nonresponse, estimation, gathering, safeguarding and use of administrative and alternate data in statistical programs. Recently his work has been on frameworks for optimizing privacy and information and on data ethics. He holds a BSc in statistics from Université Laval and a BA in ancient studies from University of Ottawa. He is currently pursuing studies in Data Ethics. He has been involved in many professional associations and is a member of the SSC, ASA, IASS, IAOS as well as and elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He is the Canada representative who has brought the World Statistics Congress to Canada (Ottawa) for 2023.

BSc Statistics (1990) Université Laval
BA Ancient Studies (2001) Ottawa University
BA Medieval Studies (To be completed this fall)
ISI Elected Member (2004)

John M. Abowd
Associate Director for Research & Methodology and Chief Scientist, United States Census Bureau

John Abowd is the U.S. Census Bureau’s associate director for research and methodology, and chief scientist. He was named to the position in June 2016. The Research and Methodology Directorate leads critical work to modernize our operations and products. He is leading the agency’s efforts to create a differentially private protection system for the 2020 Census and future data products. His long association with the Census Bureau began in 1998 when he joined the team that helped found the longitudinal employer-household dynamics program. In 2008, he led the team that created the world’s first application of a differentially private protection system for the program’s OnTheMap job location tool. Abowd is also the Edmund Ezra Day Professor of economics, statistics, and information science at Cornell University. He is a fellow and past president of the Society of Labor Economists. He is also a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Econometric Society, as well as an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and an A.B. from the Department of Economics at the University of Notre Dame.

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