Privacy and data ethics are top priorities at Obsidian. We have created a executive-level role, Vice President of Privacy and Trust, and appointed Laura Norén to lead this critical area. Previously serving as the Director of Research, Norén brings a decade of experience in the sociotechnical impact of technological advances, including five years working on the ethical implications of applied data science.
Obsidian is building its technical stack and organizational structure to become a privacy and data ethics leader within the cybersecurity industry. Establishing an executive-level role to protect data subjects’ privacy and advocate for fairness in statistical and machine learning models is part of a larger effort to unite privacy principles and data ethics with technical advances in identity-centric cybersecurity. As Obsidian’s intelligent identity protection platform gains market traction, the regulatory environment becomes more complex, and demands for responsible data practices have captured the public attention, technically rigorous privacy and identity governance is crucially important.
Norén’s new role at Obsidian is a proactive privacy and data ethics position integrated into the data science and engineering teams, a first in the cybersecurity industry. In a systematic sample of cybersecurity companies exhibiting at RSA 2019, the US’s largest cybersecurity conference by attendance, only 12% had roles dedicated to privacy or ethics and most of those focused on compliance with limited influence on early-stage product development and model fairness.
“At Obsidian, we believe data ethics is more than a compliance issue. Because we are identity-centric and driven by machine learning we have to take responsibility for impacts on customers and employees. Laura’s statistical background and capacity to understand the human impact of applied data science are a competitive advantage for us. She’s here to look out for the interests of the employees and customers we protect,” said Glenn Chisholm, CEO of Obsidian Security who added that Norén is also the company’s general data protection officer for EU facing customers.
Before joining Obsidian in 2018, Norén was a Moore-Sloan postdoctoral associate at NYU’s Center for Data Science where she wrote and taught the first Data Science Ethics course in the Department of Applied Statistics. She maintains an active scholarly agenda and holds visiting scholar appointments at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and UC-Berkeley’s Division of Data Science. Norén serves as an advisor to the Moore-Sloan Alumni Network and Project Lead the Way, a K-12 STEM curriculum developer serving 3 million students. She is a frequent speaker at data science conferences, corporate workshops, and an active writer, including for her Data Science Community Newsletter. Norén holds a PhD in sociology from NYU and undergraduate degrees from MIT.