Posts filed under ‘Book’
Trend #1: Digital Advertising Comes of Age and Continues to Propel the Growth of Data Brokers and Markets
Authors’ Note: As promised, this is trend number one in our take on the top ten privacy trends or the more things change, the more they stay the same. Although similar to David Lettermen’s Top Ten lists, our list is not as funny (unless we get points for sarcasm). We would like to remind you that sifting through the media coverage, books, blog posts, and research studies has been no easy task and trying to understand how all of it fits into the larger privacy landscape has been even harder. Added to that, our list is sure to elicit a litany of trends that we missed. We certainly hope that it does and welcome your input in our comments section! Now, on with the trend number one!
It is safe to say that continued media attention (mostly negative) has not had an impact on the rising use of third party tracking mechanisms to collect personal information. According to the Web Privacy Census, an undertaking sponsored by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, which measures and benchmarks Internet tracking over time:
- The number of cookies discovered on the top 100, 1,000, and 25,000 websites are all significantly increasing. For example, in May of 2012 5,795 cookies were found on the top 100 sites and in October of 2012 the number reached 6,485.
- The percentage of cookies set by a third party host was 84.7%. In other words, most of us are being tracked by a host of parties that we have no data collection agreement with.
- The top trackers were BlueKai (the largest online auction marketplace), Rubicon Project (one of the larger real-time bidding systems that sells ad space on web pages), and Adnxs (the advertising exchange for advertising exchanges).
We’ve been promising an update to our book, Privacy and Big Data, since the just pre- and mostly post-Snowden era. When we proposed and wrote the book it was to fill a void. At the time, there was a lack of mainstream attention to the issues of privacy by the media and a lack of understanding of the issues and implications we all face in the digital world. As tech veterans of long standing, we have seen our world transformed for better and for worse by our industry. Much of the “worst” we chronicled in our book and at the time its release, many relegated our book and ourselves to the “foil hat” and “black helicopter” brigade. Yes, that was a “we told you so” but we promise it’s the last one.
Then came the Snowden revelations which raised its own hailstorm of media attention, information, misinformation, and disinformation (primarily by our government officials, legislative leaders, and the President as well as the Prime Minister of the UK) on exactly how our data was being collected and what it was being used for. Cynics though we are, we wondered if digital privacy issues had finally reached a tipping point, that we would have a national conversation about civil liberties, how to fix FISA, what is the acceptable collection and use of our data by commercial and government entities, and moving forward, how our liberties and data could be protected from corporate and government spying. (more…)
New Year (2014) Rumination: Death of privacy as we know it? Or inflection point signaling better things to come?
I am, and always have been, a glass half-full kind of gal. In fact, way back in September 2011 when Terence and I published our book on Privacy and Big Data, I was far more optimistic than he was on the future of privacy—of course, it’s easy to sound optimistic when your co-author states that privacy is dead. (And yes, we are still working on our book update but we do have day jobs and a significant release in the works so it is slow going but going it is.)
At that time, those in the “digital privacy know” characterized our book as a decent overview. Our intent at the time was to help those NOT in the “digital privacy know” get their arms around the privacy issues from a legislative, corporate, and government perspective. To our surprise, those not in the know included lots of folks in the high tech community! We did a number of interviews and dealt with informed and somewhat uninformed media folk—those in the mainstream focused on social media and those on the fringes (left and right) wanted to do deep dives into legal issues, government uses of data, and fourth amendment rights. Some seemed to think that we were members of the tin foil hat brigade, others that we were naïve, and still others that we were on point. (more…)
There are times when Terence and I look at each other and say, “What on earth were we thinking?” And this is one of those times! PatternBuilders is crazy busy right now putting out release 3.0 of our Analytics Platform (the secret sauce for our analytics applications that we like to call data-science-in-a-box), ramping up on a funding round, working with partners on a University of Sydney research project on the impact of social media on a company’s stock price (a really fun project and a post about it is in the works), and, of course, supporting customers and prospects on their big data initiatives. So… since we did not have enough to do (sarcasm on), we decided it was time to update our book, participate in a pre-Strata East webcast, speak at the Strata Conference and the MongoDB User Group (that is collocated with Strata) in New York City! In the words of the immortal Bette Davis in All About Eve (and ever so slightly revised):
“Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night ride!”
Really, what were we thinking????? (more…)
Privacy, Big Data, Civil Rights, and Personalization Versus Discrimination: When does someone else’s problem become ours?
There has been a great deal of media attention on the benefits of big data (just look at our @bigdatapbi twitter stream) lately. Certainly, PatternBuilders has been busy helping financial markets become more efficient, working with data scientists on various research projects, as well as helping other businesses with their big data initiatives. In fact, there are a number of companies (like ours) that are making significant strides in reducing the costs associated with legacy big data systems, helping to move big data out of the early adopter phase and into the mainstream. But as technology innovates, there is usually some “bad” thrown in with all that good. Such is the case with big data and privacy.
Two thought provoking articles on privacy were published this month—both considering privacy through a civil rights prism. In “Big data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it,” Alistair Croll states that:
“Personalization” is another word for discrimination. We’re not discriminating if we tailor things to you based on what we know about you — right? That’s just better service.”
In our book Privacy & Big Data that was written pre-SOPA, Mary and I spent a fair amount of time looking at the ways that big media interests are pushing both technical and legislative solutions that were inimical to both privacy and free speech. On this day when the Internet is raising its collective voice against one of the most ill thought laws of the Internet age, I thought it would be a great time to quote from the conclusion of Chapter 4 – The Stakeholders.
“Powerful groups, like the MPAA and RIAA and their international counterparts, have borrowed from advertising’s playbook and extended it to every device we own. Today, it’s not just about tracking our online behavior; it’s about tracking what we do within the “four walls” of any device that we own and being able to remotely control them without our permission. These technologies and policies could end up delivering a mortal blow to privacy as well as cede to the government and IP holders unprecedented control over what media we are allowed to consume and share. However you look at this, it’s a pretty high price to pay to support an old business model that is unable to adapt to new technology.”
Greetings one and all! Terence and I have been very busy with our day, night, and weekend jobs! Naturally, in the midst of QA’ing the latest release of PatternBuilders Analytics Platform, our book commitments have also been on the rise with interviews, a podcast, and some upcoming conferences that we will be speaking at. The past few weeks have been a wee bit crazy for us, but also a lot of fun. Our book certainly has sparked some lively conversations:
- The rise of data collection by some known, and many unknown parties, as well the selling of that data to third parties for unknown (there’s that word again) uses.
- The role of government, regulation, and policies in the digital world we all inhabit.
- The various constituencies and their privacy agendas.
- How privacy could become a competitive advantage for those companies who are transparent about the collection and various uses of our data.