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.
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 — 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.
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 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.
Genetic privacy | SACGHS — The World Privacy Forum gave testimony to the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics Health and Society regarding privacy issues stemming from direct-to-consumer advertising and consumer-initiated genetic testing. The World Privacy Forum noted that a great deal of consumer health data circulates outside the protections of HIPAA, and a substantial market for this kind of consumer health data already exists. Genetic data about consumers that is acquired outside the clinical context and is not subject to the protections of HIPAA (for example, through consumer-initiated genetic testing) will likely not be any more protected than other forms of consumers’ health-related information from the current demands of the market. However, the consequences of leakage of genetic information about consumers into the marketing stream could have potentially negative consequences for both those consumers and their blood relatives. The World Privacy Forum urged the committee to include specific recommendations about privacy in its upcoming report to the Secretary, and also urged the committee to work with other federal agencies to set up a pre-market oversight structure that includes significant and meaningful privacy protections for genetic testing occurring outside of the protections of HIPAA.