(We created the Comcast Innovation Fund to support important research into the future of the Internet, with a focus on broadband, security and open-source development. In this series, we highlight grantees and their work.)

The Comcast Innovation Fund is pleased to announce the award of a grant to the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a leading nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst for privacy leadership and scholarship, advancing principled data practices in support of emerging technologies.

This grant will bring disability advocates into policy conversations on privacy, data, and technology to explore the range of ways that Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are being used to empower those with disabilities.  FPF will be working on the project with Henry Claypool, Policy Director of Community Living Policy Center at the University of California, San Francisco, former Executive Vice President of the American Association of People with Disabilities, and former Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a major opportunity to support uses of data in ways that will benefit disadvantaged populations and promote inclusion.

In this project, FPF will lead an outreach and research effort to promote understanding of the range of ways IoT technologies are being used to empower those with disabilities and bring disability advocates into privacy-data-technology policy debates. Interested researchers, and other advocates and associations who are working in the public interest will be engaged, as will innovators and start-ups.  The project team will be informed by FPF’s previous work in application privacy, location-sensor technologies, smart home and connected cars. The team will also track developments and incorporate as appropriate the work products and findings of other IoT efforts.

The Future of Privacy Forum will convene disability leaders and experts, researchers, public interest advocates, and innovators for a series of roundtable discussions on topics related to assistive technologies and applications, and IoT issues related to privacy, security, equality, and access.  This series of discussions will be part of the Future of Privacy Forum’s Consumer-Business Dialogue, which has a pointed history of robust technology and policy conversations in a friendly atmosphere conducive to honest, constructive dialogue.

Based on these conversations and related work, the Future of Privacy Forum will develop a white paper addressing a range of issues around individual privacy.  The paper will also describe areas where data and technology can benefit those with disabilities, as well as areas where important privacy concerns should be addressed.

It’s important work on a critical topic and we’re excited to learn what the project finds.