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University of Michigan School of Information


Schaub and McQuade to team up for identity theft class

Friday, 03/12/2021

Florian Schaub, assistant professor of information at the University of Michigan School of Information, and clinical law professor Barbara McQuade will team up for “Identity Theft: Causes and Countermeasures,” one of four new courses offered in fall 2021 to graduate and professional students through the U-M Law School Problem Solving Initiative

Schaub says research shows that most people don’t adopt simple identity theft measures to protect themselves, such as credit freezes, but the problem does not just rest with the individual. Current public policy places a lot of responsibility on the individual without addressing systemic risks.

“We hope that our students take away practical skills for their own lives—which they hopefully also carry to their peers and families, as our research has also shown that peer advice is most effective at getting people to adopt protective measures—but ideally explore solutions that will help a larger swath of the population,” he said.

In addition to the expertise of McQuade and Schaub, the course will feature guest speakers including law enforcement personnel, identity theft victims and potentially identity thieves.

“We will further look at what are the technical, psychological and public policy realities that create risks and opportunity for identity theft, as well as how those risks can be addressed through technical, policy or educational measures.” said Schaub, adding that they likely will bring in examples from other countries where identity theft is not as much of a problem, which could include a discussion about the value and concerns around a national ID system.

“We don’t expect them to solve identity theft once and for all but rather pick a specific aspect and think through some multidisciplinary solutions. That might be what solutions could make it harder for identity theft to be perpetrated, could make it easier for consumers to spot and avoid identity theft risks or attempts, support the recovery from identity theft or other technical, policy or educational solutions.”

The Problem Solving Initiative began in 2017. Past classes have addressed human trafficking, sexual misconduct on campuses, robots in the workplace, reducing firearm violence, fake news, group violence through social media and concussion in youth football.

Notable course outcomes include a draft of historic preservation legislation in India, a health department protocol and a court pilot program around human trafficking in Washtenaw County, Michigan, and a business model for promoting and nurturing Detroit music and musicians.

All U-M graduate and professional students can enroll in PSI courses. Registration begins March 15.

- Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

Read more about the Problem Solving Initiative.