Microsoft Research scientists conduct basic and applied research in computer science, software engineering, and the interaction between information and communications technology and society. A few of the cutting-edge privacy projects currently under way are below.
Details about these and other privacy-related research projects, including scientific white papers and results summaries, can be found on the "Our research" page. Use the filtering options there to find privacy and security projects.
This project focuses on privacy challenges related to providing accurate statistics about a population while preserving the privacy of individuals within that population. The central concept is "Differential Privacy," which offers both a mathematical definition of privacy (PDF, 329 KB) based on the idea that any individual's opt-in or opt-out of a database should not alter its statistics significantly, and a research technology that aims at reducing privacy related risks, including reidentification of individuals through correlation with other databases.
This project explores people's practices and attitudes when interacting through social media applications, such as instant messaging, online chat, and social networking websites. Focal points include people's expectations and concerns about privacy and how these might vary among different age groups.
Researchers are working on cryptographic tools that will enable an individual or organization to help secure data stored in the cloud, even if the data resides on a computer infrastructure that is not controlled or trusted by the user. Potential outcomes of this project include tools that provide individuals greater control over who can access which portions of their health, financial and other types of personal information, by using techniques such as homomorphic encryption, searchable encryption and controlled disclosure of information.