Noble awarded XSEDE grant to examine consumer data, cloud computing

press release courtesy I-CHASS

[Seeing Systems Faculty member] Safiya Noble, assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Illinois in collaboration with the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (I-CHASS) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Cybersecurity Group has been awarded a startup allocation grant on the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a national collaboration of supercomputing infrastructures. Noble’s research team will use XSEDE to pursue large-scale visualizations. Noble is an affiliated faculty member at GSLIS.

In her research, she is examining the movement of consumer data across international borders which has come about as a result of increasing use of cloud computing tools (e.g., Facebook, Amazon, Gmail, YouTube, etc.). The central research questions will focus on how to best understand the implications of data storage by cloud-computing companies outside of the U.S, and whether our personal information is at risk as it crosses national borders. The pressing theme of this research is concerned with whether the public’s data is protected under the terms of service agreements, international trade agreements protecting commercial data, or whether it is subject to the sovereign laws of the nations physically storing or warehousing U.S.-based data.

Noble’s study will map large datasets of consumer email and cloud-based services, over time, in order to understand how data physically moves through national and international infrastructures. These large-scale visualizations of consumer information will allow for exploration and greater theorization on information policy issues affecting consumer privacy.