Privacy and Big Data: An Update is in the Works and We Want Your Input!

July 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm 2 comments

By Mary Ludloff

In July of 2011, Terence and I were doing our day jobs (which in startup-land is way more than 8 hours) and working on “Privacy and Big Data” during the evenings and weekends. It was, by all accounts (at least according to our friends and family), a lovely summer and we missed most of it! We spent “our” July, August, and September combing through research, studies, media reports, blogs (we stopped counting the number of pages when we got to 4,000) to put together a book that was our humble attempt to cover the full spectrum of the privacy landscape:

  • Our rights and expectations of privacy historically and in the digital age.
  • The current “state” of privacy regulations here (U.S.) and abroad.
  • The players (governments, industries, movements, and companies) that have a stake in the privacy debate and their often contentious and competing agendas.

The writing of the book featured much debate amongst the two authors as to what was most important and who was missing the point. Terence’s view on the ongoing digital rights debate (SOPA and PIPA were shot down in February) and my view on the use of cyber surveillance by our government (prior to CISPA) and others were two ongoing discussions we had throughout the writing of the book with each of us arguing that our “issue” (SOPA/PIPA vs. pre-CISPA) could be responsible for delivering a death knell to privacy as we know it. Hyperbolic? Well, yes, but this gives you an idea of how passionate we were (and are) about privacy in the digital age.

And, drum roll please, we are going to do it again! Our publisher, O’Reilly, has asked us to update our book and since the privacy debate has picked up “speed” on so many fronts, we decided that this was the right time to take a look at where we were (publication data) and where we are. We will, of course, cover the current state of privacy regulations (U.S., EU, and other countries/unions) and new legislation as well as cover some old (covered in the book but well worth another look) and new issues, including:

  • The increasing use of cyber surveillance by many governments in the form of eavesdropping on Internet and wireless communications and using drones, among others.
  • The pervasive collection and use of geolocation data generated by our many personal devices and the privacy issues that arise via government and third party usage (like Carrier IQ) as well as the application ecosystem built around it.
  • The unsettling reality that our devices, like our Smartphones and E-book readers, know far more about us than ever before and that retailers (like Target), travel sites (like Orbitz), and other companies (take Equifax for example) could make questionable use of that data depending on your “creepy-meter.”

While we’re covering those issues, we’ve got some questions we will address and “try” to answer:

  • Does big data mean the death of Internet privacy?
  • Is there a privacy tipping point (maybe drones?) that will cause mainstream America to rethink our current data collection policies?
  • Can “respect for privacy” become a competitive differentiator for companies and organizations? And what role will transparency (one of Terence’s favorite topic) play in all of this?
  • Will the EU drive privacy policy in the U.S. tech sector?
  • What does the privacy eco-system look like today? (Lots more business models and great ideas!)
  • What are our prognostications (I just love that word) on the “state of privacy” from one year to five years out? (Note to book reviewers: We heard you and we will try our best to make some predictions. I am sure that I will have a list and Terence will have a list and that we may have very different versions of the future!)

Now that we’ve told you what we would like to include, we thought we’d ask all of you the same question: What privacy and big data topics would you like us to cover? When it comes to digital privacy, what keeps you up at night? We want your input so comment on the post, tweet us (@mludloff or @terencecraig), or email us and weigh in on new or old topics to cover!

Entry filed under: General Analytics. Tags: , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Sheridan  |  July 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Looks like a good update to a book I didn’t know you had written. I’m fascinated with this topic and the associated topic of personal digital security. When will the update be complete?


    • 2. Terence Craig  |  July 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Later than our editor will like is probably the safest answer 🙂 We will certainly have it done before the end of the year. Thanks for your interest.



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