Big Data

Big Data is a term WPF uses to describe very large datasets and the technologies and practices of handling those datasets. Typically, Big Data datasets are so large that traditional database systems are not able to handle or analyze them.

Sources for Big Data are many and varied. They include web data, sensors, cell towers, census data and other data from the government, social media, transactional data, and a variety of other data collection systems.

We have seen a tendency to use the term Big Data as a loosely defined stand-in for a number of privacy issues that sound the same, but aren’t. For example, Big Data and Data Brokers are sometimes used together. The two ideas are distinct and different, and it is crucial for public policy and discussion that the two are not conflated as being the same thing or even a similar thing. It is possible to work with Big Data and never be a Data Broker.

Large datasets are intriguing to the World Privacy Forum, and our research on large datasets resulting from sensors and ID cards in Asia helped us understand and explore the issue in-depth. Large datasets sometimes present privacy challenges, but sometimes they do not. Much depends on how the dataflows are collected, managed, stored, and so forth. Understanding these differences and knowing when and where the challenges are is going to be important going forward in this rapidly evolving space.

 

Good privacy decision in Amazon v. Lay fight to keep customer information private

Resource | case file — Amazon.com filed a lawsuit in April to fight the North Carolina Department of Revenue’s request for detailed information on Amazon.com customers. The North Carolina tax department requested Amazon.com to hand over “all information for all sales to customers with a North Carolina shipping address” between 2003 to 2010. In the decision, Seattle, Washington U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman wrote, “Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously.” She also stated that “The fear of government tracking and censoring one\’s reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.” This is an important decision for privacy rights, and online privacy in particular.

State AGs press Google on Wi-Fi debacle

Online privacy — A press release issued by Connecticut’s AG Richard Blumenthal revelaed that 38 states have joined a mulitstate investigation of Google’s Street View wi fi sniffing program. Blumenthal stated in the release: “We are asking Google to identify specific individuals responsible for the snooping code and how Google was unaware that this code allowed the Street View cars to collect data broadcast over WiFi networks. Information we are awaiting includes how the spy software was included in Google’s Street View network and specific locations where unauthorized data collection occurred. We will take all appropriate steps — including potential legal action if warranted — to obtain complete, comprehensive answers.”

Digital Signage Privacy Principles for Consumers: Nation’s leading consumer groups release new privacy principles

Digital Signage Privacy Principles — The nation’s leading consumer and privacy groups released a set of baseline consumer privacy principles to be included in digital signage networks. The principles were released at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, where World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon spoke about the principles to a large group of digital signage industry professionals.

WPF to speak at FTC Privacy Roundtable

FTC Privacy Roundtable — Thursday, January 28, WPF Executive Director Pam Dixon will be speaking at the FTC’s Privacy Roundtable about the privacy implications of digital signage networks and will be specifically discussing the new report: The One-Way Mirror Society: Privacy Implications of the New Digital Signage Networks. Few consumers, legislators, regulators, or policy makers are aware of the capabilities of digital signs or of the extent of their use. The technology presents new problems and highlights old conflicts about privacy, public spaces, and the need for a meaningful debate.

FTC Privacy Roundtable: WPF to testify on information brokers

FTC Privacy Roundtable — WPF executive director Pam Dixon will testify at the FTC Privacy Roundtable about information brokers and commercial data practices and they impact consumers. Dixon will be discussing the business models of data brokers, issues with smart grids, and opt-out problems, among other issues.