Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rethinking Privacy in an Era of Big Data

Hardy, Quentin. "Rethinking Privacy in an Era of Big Data." The New York Times, June 4, 2012.

From the blog: "Some years ago an engineer at Google told me why Google wasn’t collecting information linked to people’s names. “We don’t want the name. The name is noise.” There was enough information in Google’s large database of search queries, location, and online behavior, he said, that you could tell a lot about somebody through indirect means.

The point was that actually finding out people’s names isn’t necessary for sending them targeted ads. It can probably lead to trouble, as Google’s own
adventures in Wi-Fi snooping show. Even without knowing your name, increasingly, everything about you is out there. Whether and how you guard your privacy in an online world we are building up every day has become increasingly urgent.

“Privacy is a source of tremendous tension and anxiety in Big Data,” says
Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research. Speaking last week at a conference on Big Data at the University of California, Berkeley, she said, “It’s a general anxiety that you can’t pinpoint, this odd moment of creepiness.” She asked, Iis this moving towards a society that we want to build?”" Read more