Follow Up on Privacy and Big Data Webcast & Great Article on Privacy

September 16, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

By Mary Ludloff

As you all probably know, our O’Reilly Webcast on Privacy and Big Data (go here to pre-order the book) was Wednesday. I must confess that Terence and I were a bit worried because we decided to go with a conversational approach rather than one that was presentation oriented. Unbeknownst to our audience, we and our moderator were in different locations (it just so happened that when we booked the date we did not realize that two of us would be out of town). This makes having a conversation pretty difficult since you cannot see each other and have to rely solely on vocal cues! However, I think it worked—we were asked some great questions by our audience and pretty much all of them stayed for the entire discussion which was more than 60 minutes. For those of you who missed it, O’Reilly will be putting up a video archive and we will, of course, publish the link here and on Twitter.

Now, during the course of our conversation, we were asked a question about all the personal information sites and how to opt out. Reddit has a great list of the sites and better yet, links to where you can go to get your name removed from these services. I have used this list myself and a hat tip to them for providing it. We also talked about “What They Know,” a Wall Street Journal series on privacy and promised to post the link to it (consider it done).  Finally, I mentioned during the webcast that we have done a number of blog posts related to privacy and here are some of our most read posts:

And as I was prepping this post, I came across a great article on privacy from Slate. As we talked about on the webcast (and also in our book), you can find out personal information even when you are making an effort to keep it private. As journalist Kevin Gold points out:

“But ZIP code, sex, and birth date are enough to determine your exact identity 87 percent of the time, as noted by Latanya Sweeney of Harvard’s Data Privacy Lab. Unless the subject is savvy enough to use a proxy, your location can be deduced from your IP address; your birth date is often volunteered on social-networking sites or as proof of being old enough to not give the website headaches; and gender can be revealed by as subtle a cue as word choice.”

I don’t believe we talked about this on the webcast, but we do spend a great deal of time talking about linkage (three specific pieces of information can be used to determine who you are) and leakage (the leaking of personal information from social networks). If you’d like to read more about this, there are two great research studies by Balachander Krishnamurthy and Craig E. Wills:

That’s it for now—as always, feel free to comment/question if you would like additional information. Also, if you search on our data privacy tag, you will see all posts related to privacy.

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Maps: Lessons Learned Privacy and Big Data: Webcast Now Available!

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