News Article

National Archives Presents Second Annual McGowan Forum on Ethics: The Challenge of Big Data

October 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – The National Archives Foundation and the National Archives hosted the second annual McGowan Forum on Ethics series last night, focusing on The Challenge of Big Data.

This McGowan Forum on Ethics included a panel of writers, corporate leaders and government officials who examined the ethical responsibility of those who compile and track citizen’s personal data: What responsibility do corporations and governments have to protect their customers and be transparent regarding possible data hacks?

Moderated by Kim Hart, Technology Editor at Axios, panelists included Neil Chilson, acting chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission; Marc DaCosta, co-founder and chairman of Enigma; Michelle De Mooy, Director of the Privacy & Data Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology; and John Verdi, vice president of policy at Future of Privacy Forum. Archived video is available at:

“As technology and innovation provide new challenges for every day life and society, we are grateful to bring together some of the great voices to discuss how we best navigate a way forward,” said Patrick M. Madden, Executive Director of the Foundation. “With the McGowan Forum on Ethics, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund has continued its indelible mark on the National Archives. Their generosity has provided support for free educational programming to diverse audiences from across the nation and the world.”

“Exploring what it means to participate ethically in business and in society was an integral part of Bill McGowan’s life and work,” said Diana Spencer, Executive Director of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund and National Archives Foundation Board Member. “We are excited that the McGowan Fall Forum emphasizes the important questions that must be explored in our global society. Last night’s program on ‘The Challenge of Big Data’ was an important and timely discussion, addressing the ethical underpinnings that arise from the complexities of our rapidly advancing technologies.”

Through the support of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, the National Archives and the Foundation present nearly 100 programs each year online and in the 290-seat William G. McGowan Theater. Past McGowan Forum series on Women in Leadership, and Communications, have enjoyed participation and attendance from a wide variety of high­-profile individuals, including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, Obama Administration Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, famed The New Yorker political cartoonist David Sipress, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The McGowan Theater and its public programming are made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the support of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund.


The National Archives Foundation is an independent nonprofit that increases public awareness of the National Archives, inspires a deeper appreciation of our country’s heritage, and encourages citizen engagement in our democracy. The Foundation generates financial and creative support for National Archives exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives, introducing America’s records to people around the U.S. and the world. Learn more at:

The National Archives is an independent federal agency that serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, so people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. The National Archives ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet at:

The National Archives Museum, created by the National Archives in partnership with the National Archives Foundation, has transformed the visitor experience and includes the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, the David M. Rubenstein Gallery and its Records of Rights permanent exhibition, the award-winning Public Vaults permanent gallery, the William G. McGowan Theater, the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery for special exhibits, the Boeing Learning Center, the Digital Vaults online exhibit, and the DocsTeach website.