Strata Week: We give up more data than we realize, but CA residents soon may have access to all of it
Alessandro Acquisti's data research, the CA Right to Know Act of 2013, big data signal issues, and big data battles fraud and theft.
A look at personal data research and new government legislation
In a post at the New York Times this week, Somini Sengupta took an in-depth look at the work of Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Acquisti studies the choices we make when deciding what and how much data we’re willing to share and the things that cause us to often give up more data than we realize. Sengupta reports:
“Our browsing habits, search terms, e-mail communication — even our offering of our ZIP codes at the supermarket checkout — reveal bits of information that can be assembled by data companies, usually for the purpose of knowing what sorts of products we’re most likely to buy. The online advertising industry insists that the data is scrambled to make it impossible to identify individuals.
“Mr. Acquisti offers a sobering counterpoint. In 2011, he took snapshots with a webcam of nearly 100 students on campus. Within minutes, he had identified about one-third of them using facial recognition software. In addition, for about a fourth of the subjects whom he could identify, he found out enough about them on Facebook to guess at least a portion of their Social Security numbers.”
Increasingly our devices know where we are and are able to share that information. This is a trend that will enable many new services, but at the same time puts the consumer and the service provider at risk. The consumer is at risk of their "future self" forgetting that they are being tracked and then having their location being recorded unintentionally. The company is put at risk just by having this data stored. If they have user data then it is subject to subpoena or unintentional releases. The EFF has weighed in on this trend with a timely whitepaper.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes that the Google Book Search settlement accomplishes a degree of access that litigation might have taken years to develop, but it also observes areas of concern: fair use, innovation, competition, access, public domain and privacy. Innovation: It seems likely that the "nondisplay uses" of Google's scanned corpus of text will end up being…
At the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a post on what the future of digital books portends for pubishers and consumers: Skeptics should remember that it wasn't long ago that many predicted that CDs would never replace vinyl, and later that MP3s would never replace CDs. You can still find great record stores that specialize in vinyl, but the trend…