Data Privacy in the Age of Big Data: Ebook Coming Soon!

March 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm 15 comments

Privacy and Big DataHow the players, regulators, and stakeholders are changing the privacy landscape.

By Terence Craig

As Mary mentioned in the previous post, we have a big announcement to make: we are co-authoring a series of Ebooks for O’Reilly. The first in the series will focus on the data privacy landscape as it is today, including:

  • The technological innovations driving big data and analytics, and how those innovations are forcing us to reexamine and often re-invent our ideas around data ownership, privacy and security.
  • The rise of data collectors, aggregators, and marketplaces, their methods of capturing and monetizing data about you, and how that impacts your privacy.
  • How the worldwide regulatory and legal landscape is evolving as governments try to balance the security and convenience benefits of these technologies against their potential for abuse.
  • Why the music industry and other large copyright holders have become leading figures in the battle against consumer privacy.
  • How governments use and abuse their citizens’ digital data.

People often ask why we spend so much time writing about digital privacy issues. First, as a company that is on the forefront of creating sophisticated tools to analyze digital data, we are acutely aware of the powerful technologies and techniques we—and companies in our industry—are developing.  And as I wrote here, we think a lot about what we can do to ensure that our tools and expertise are used in ways that are ethical and positive.  Helping our customers and the public be proactive about privacy issues is one of the best ways to do that.

Second, there have clearly been some alarming abuses of privacy by both public and private organizations (such as our post on Lush and Gawker’s unreported privacy breaches, Facebook providing—and then removing—developer access to users’ and addresses and phone numbers, or the recent lawsuit brought against Amazon alleging that the company circumvents users’ privacy settings to collect personal information), both deliberate and accidental.  The worst case scenario for our industry is that consumers become afraid to share their data. Certainly, we are seeing a trend of overzealous and restrictive government regulations. This can have the unfortunate impact of slowing the amazing insights and innovations that the current abundance of digital information and technologies is producing.

In our view, the best way to prevent this is for vendors like us to behave ethically and ensure that consumers are educated about how to maintain their privacy. That way, we will all be able to enjoy the real benefits that responsible sharing and analysis of data brings to individuals and society as a whole.

What does privacy mean in this new digital age? How does one secure it and still participate in our increasingly digital world? The answers to these questions are becoming central to our social and political life and Mary and I are honored that O’Reilly is giving us a broader platform to contribute to this important discussion.

For more information on the book, we have set up a page with a detailed overview. Please let us know your privacy concerns and issues, what keeps you up at night, and where you think privacy is headed.

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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