OpenDP for the Development of the 2022 HCAIM Hackathon: A Use Case By Oblivious

In a stride towards privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs), Oblivious, an Irish-rooted company specializing in privacy-enhancing technology, joined forces with the HCAIM Consortium for a collaboration in 2022. The focal point of this partnership was the HCAIM Hackathon, a pioneering platform that aimed to gamify the learning and application of differential privacy and PETs. Central to the success of this endeavour was the OpenDP Library, a modular collection of statistical algorithms adhering to the definition of differential privacy, which played a pivotal role in driving robust privacy-preserving computations.

The OpenDP Library, implemented in Rust, with convenient Python bindings, emerged as a versatile toolkit enabling developers to build applications of privacy-preserving computations using various privacy models. Its conceptual framework provided a systematic approach for expressing privacy-aware computations and became a foundational element in the PET ecosystem.

Under the 2022 HCAIM Hackathon, Oblivious and HCAIM brought together students from four European universities. Focused on Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning, the hackathon challenged participants to engage with differential privacy and PETs while handling real-world, impactful data sources.

Encouraged by the positive outcome of the hackathon, Oblivious further led a dedicated PETs stream at the 2022 UN PET Lab Hackathon. They developed a simple API-based interface allowing users to interact with OpenDP, SmartNoise, and DiffPrivLib on a dataset without direct access. The unique competition format placed the onus of balancing privacy and utility on the data scientist. They had over 300 participants from 33 countries join in, with on-site events in institutions like Harvard, Toronto Metropolitan University, and ETH Zürich.

Central to the success of these hackathons was the establishment of robust feedback loops between data scientists and PET providers. By collaborating with entities like OpenDP, IBM, and Microsoft, Oblivious actively contributed to the evolution of privacy-enhancing technologies, fostering knowledge exchange within the PET community and driving advancements in the field.

Learn more about OpenDP and its applications in this Q&A article with Jack Fitzsimons, one of the founders of Oblivious. We thank Oblivious for the great collaboration in 2022 and are looking forward to joint future endeavours!

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