Data Privacy and Technology

Explore the risks and rewards of data privacy and collection

Explore legal and ethical implications of one’s personal data, the risks and rewards of data collection and surveillance, and the needs for policy, advocacy, and privacy monitoring, in this Harvard Online course

Featuring faculty from:
April 2023
5 weeks
4-5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
July 2023
5 weeks
4-5 hours per week
Certificate Price
Program Dates
Applications Close
Apply today for Data Privacy and Technology

What You'll Learn

Where is the line between the benefits of gathering information for public health and personal privacy? What about the balance between security and surveillance? Should data gathered about you be used to personalize the ads you see or the prices you pay? As a decision-maker, you're constantly moving back and forth on a continuum, weighing the benefits and risks of using personal data.  

Technology isn’t value-neutral. In an age where more technology is incorporated into daily life at an increasing pace, the protection of privacy can often be an afterthought. Data Privacy and Technology will encourage you to think critically about the trade-offs and challenges presented by today’s ever-changing role of technology.

Through real-life examples with industry experts, policy makers, and privacy researchers you’ll explore legal and ethical implications of collecting personal data; understand who’s responsible for protecting personal data; and why antitrust and privacy laws are unable to keep pace with the rapid change in technology. Throughout the course, you’ll explore the risks and rewards of surveillance; examine the future of data collection, usage, and privacy; and the technology of personal data collection.

Privacy is a complex and multifaceted concept and this course aims to help you become a contributing member of privacy-forward communities, business task forces, and data-sharing practices. By the end of the course, you will be a better informed citizen of the Internet, be able to think about the trade-offs around data collection, and be able to lead your organization as it grapples with the interaction between big data and privacy.

Do you agree to enroll in this course? It's time to learn how to balance the utility of a dataset with the privacy of the individuals.

The course will be delivered via HBS Online’s course platform and immerse learners in real-world examples from experts at industry-leading organizations. By the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the various attempts to define privacy and the ongoing conflict of privacy laws and norms within technology advancements
  • Review approaches to collecting, using, and selling data, including data privacy policies—and the impact on user protections
  • Analyze challenges related to the anonymization of data and the trade-offs between privacy and utility
  • Examine the price of personal data and the trade-offs between privacy and other values
  • Explore the impacts of emerging technologies on the future of privacy, protection, and law
  • Think critically about privacy issues from multiple angles, exploring policy, cultural, and societal impacts

Your Instructors

Michael D. Smith is the John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard University. He spent 11 years as the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, leading Harvard’s oldest and largest school. Smith was actively involved in the launch of edX, and served on its board from 2012 to 2018. Earlier in his career, he spent time in industry building a range of computing hardware for Honeywell Information Systems and, in 2001, co-founded the data security company Liquid Machines, which was acquired in 2010 by Check Point Software Technologies. While at Harvard, he received a prestigious National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award and the Alpha Iota Prize for Excellence in Teaching.


Jim Waldo is the Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard, where he teaches courses in distributed systems and privacy; the Chief Technology Officer for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and a Professor of Policy teaching on topics of technology and policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Waldo was a Distinguished Engineer with Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where he investigated next-generation, large-scale distributed systems, and got his start in distributed systems at Apollo Computer.

Real World Case Studies

Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Andy Yen

Andy Yen

Hear from a CEO on creating a privacy-forward business and learn more about the cost of privacy-protection.
Latanya Sweeney

Latanya Sweeney

Find out how technology can be a vehicle for stereotyping and the pitfalls of advertising algorithms in a conversation with Harvard faculty.

Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot

Learn from a New York Times bestselling author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” about the complexity of biomedical research and the ethics of informed consent.

Who Will Benefit

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IT, Programming, & Marketing Professionals

Utilize best practices in collecting and using personal data.

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Managers & Decision-Makers

Set clear strategies and policies about consumer data, website security, and technology best practices.

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Advocates & Policy Makers

Explore current policies and regulations to define data education and protection.

Learner Testimonials

On Data Privacy and Technology

"The course was informative on both current and future data privacy and technological innovation trends—the need for data privacy without inhibiting innovation. The team and instructors prompt critical thinking while broadening the understanding of data privacy beyond the frontiers. At the end of the course, I concluded that there was a need for a mass cultural shift towards ethical use of technology."

Joanita Nagaba
Co-founder, ANJ Data Management Solutions Africa Ltd.

On Data Privacy and Technology

"I love the way the course is structured with real-world examples and the critical thinking sessions. It forces us to reflect upon what is happening around us. People who have an interest in cybersecurity, as well as those that would like to gain more general knowledge, would greatly benefit from this course."

Anand Narayan
Account Executive, Lenovo Canada

On Data Privacy and Technology

"I would highly recommend the course to a colleague as it was a very interesting course. The way the course is designed helped me to interact with my peers and learn from them, expending my perspective about the subjects being discussed. I also feel that I learned more about privacy and data protection in ways that I would never have thought about it if it wasn't for the real-world cases."

Camilla de Carvalho
Corporate Paralegal and Governance Specialist, Concert Properties Ltd.

On Data Privacy and Technology

"I recommended the course to a colleague. I feel that the course provides a perspective into real-life privacy concerns. This perspective changes, in my context, the way I view privacy-related legislation. I think the course is especially relevant for anyone who is venturing into a career path centred around data privacy and technology. I also appreciate the interplay between privacy and technology because I got to see just how crucial it is to guard against the innovation of technology that is non-compliant with data privacy laws."

Giscard Kotelo
Privacy Consultant, Deloitte

On Data Privacy and Technology

"I have truly enjoyed this course and I never thought that I would learn this much from an online course. The critical thinking has been awesome and really improved how I approach privacy issues at work and in my private life. The mix of short lectures, cases, discussions, and having to author responses as well as review and grade others (and having your responses graded) was excellent. I have already recommended this course to my colleagues."

Sofia Sjöö
Principal Data Privacy Specialist, LL.M

Earn Your Certificate

Enroll today in Harvard Online's Data Privacy and Technology course.

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Still Have Questions?

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Data Privacy and Technology Certificate

Learn More

Explore and connect to our courses via articles, webinars, and more.

Keeping Your Data Secure

Watch a webinar about the data privacy trade-offs and challenges presented by today’s ever-changing role of technology.

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