Scales of Justice

2nd International Workshop on Accountability: Science, Technology and Policy

January 29-30, 2014

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory - 32-G449 (Kiva)

Cambridge, MA USA


Individuals and institutions increasingly want to know whether information systems are adhering to policies that are supposed to govern their behavior. As these systems grow in scale and complexity, we would like to be able to assess their accountability to policy specifications in an automated, or machine-assisted manner. Responding to requirements from the fields of data privacy, electronic surveillance, security, intellectual property, as well as healthcare and finance, researchers have been exploring how to design accountability properties for various systems. A variety of disciplines have been brought to bear on different aspects of this problem including logic and formal methods, machine learning and AI techniques, cryptographic techniques, and computer systems design. Formal requirements for accountability will be one of the topics for discussion. However, as a starting point we suggest that an accountable system is one that can be examined to assess whether policies (e.g., system specifications, information use and disclosure policies) are being followed, and possibly facilitates holding individuals or institutions responsible in the event that the policies are violated.


The goal of this workshop is to bring together leading computer scientists studying computational properties and requirements of accountable systems and designing mechanisms to provide accountability, together with legal and public policy experts. Participants in the workshop will explore the efficacy and application of different technical approaches to accountability and also consider how to meet design requirements articulated by legal scholars and user organizations.

The first workshop (not quite as international) was held at MIT in June 2006 (TAMI/Portia Privacy and Accountability Workshop)

Participation and attendance

Participation and attendance in the workshop is by invitation only for an expected 15-20 researchers. Each participant will be asked to submit an extended abstract in advance of the workshop. The organizers will produce a survey paper on accountability research based on the workshop discussion, and will also explore other publication options such as a special issue of a magazine or journal, or a book, depending on interest from the participants.

Workshop Agenda

January 29th
Workshop dinner at Evoo-350 Third St, Cambridge, MA 02142
January 30th
9:10 - 10:40

Panel 1:  Accountability models and analysis

10:40 - 11:00
11:00 - 12:30

Panel 2: Law and Public Policy perspectives/Government and Industry practices and requirements

  • Maneesha Mithal (US Federal Trade Commission)
  • John DeLong (US National Security Agency)
  • Fred Cate (Indiana University School of Law)
  • Daniel Weitzner (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), The Jurisprudence of Accountability
  • Chair: Daniel Weitzner
  • Respondent: Maritza Johnson (Facebook)

and a special feature: the first known joke about accountability (thanks to Carl Gunter for documenting it)

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 14:30

Panel 3: Conceptualizing Accountability

14:30 - 15:30

Panel 4: Accountable Information Systems

15:30 - 15:45
  • Butler Lampson (Microsoft/MIT), Reflections on Accountable Systems
15:45 - 15:50 Coffee
15:50 - 16:45

Panel 5: Spotlight on Health Care Policy and Systems

16:45 - 17:30 Next steps and wrap-up


We require an extended abstract from all presenters (2-3 pages).

Important Dates

Extended abstracts due: January 10, 2014. Please submit by email to Danny Weitzner <>, preferably in PDF.


  • Anupam Datta, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Aaron D. Jaggard, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
  • Lalana Kagal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Daniel Weitzner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Local Logistics

All participants are invited to dinner on the evening of January 29th (the night before the workshop) at 7:30pm.

A room block has been reserved with a special MIT rate of $189 per night at the

Cambridge Marriott
Two Cambridge Center
50 Broadway
Cambridge  Massachusetts  02142  USA

Room block name: MIT CSAIL Workshop
Reservations line: 1-888-236-2427.
Reservations Link
Room block expires: January 8, 2014