Without a doubt, there is a need for additional privacy standards when it comes to big data, not just to guide industry but also to help individuals understand the scope of what they are at risk of divulging when they so easily give information about themselves away. As Designing the Personal Data Stream: Enabling Participatory Privacy in Mobile Personal Sensing pointed out, the Codes for Information Privacy are just inadequate for today’s mobile technology and the big data it generates. The authors’ proposition, that individuals need to be given the power to control which of their big data streams are collected and analyzed by using an intermediary “vault” is quite appealing to me. It’s a bit like having curtains on a window, depending who is looking in, I can decide how much to show them by drawing back the curtain a little or a lot. I wonder how balky such a system would be to use initially, but could see great marketability for such a system.
I was a user of instagram. (Picture to left is one I posted at the Democratic National Convention last year when I was covering it…no idea if it was Michelle Obama, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton…). But late last year when the company’s announcement highlighted how my pictures might get used, I quickly stopped using the site for anything personal and am more cautious as well when it comes to Facebook. Still worth it for professional reasons, but on personal note, the price for these free services is privacy, and that’s a steep one. Personal Data Stream architecture is appealing. It is the first idea I’ve heard about in a long time that gives me some hope that there may be a way to restore some privacy to this system. I might be fine with letting OnStar know, for example, how much I drive, but I don’t necessarily want it to also be collecting my GPS coordinates. Sure, they may tell me they won’t store the GPS data, but can I trust them? Giving the power back to the individual to monitor the data collection is more inline with America’s right to privacy principle.
Finally, the story about medical data is not unique in the sense of there has always been tussles over who “owns” medical records — hence the recent fight in Tallahassee over how much doctors’ offices and/or medical record firms could charge you to get copies of your own medical files. But what is shocking now when it comes to medical devices is the quantity and quality of the data. Clearly, there needs to be new standards and/or laws pertaining to devices implanted in the body.
I posit one other thought about medical devices. It’s not just access to the data but it’s also that the individual with the most to lose is not in control of who else has access to the data. That’s what former Vice President Dick Cheney’s doctor worried about — that in the wrong hands, information about the former vice president’s heart defibrillator and heart pump could be easily hijacked to cause a heart attack. And you may have seen the Homeland episode with the same premise.
1) How have privacy concerns impacted your use of social media? Are there things you don’t do as a result? How diligent are you in monitoring privacy settings?
2) On your smart phone, do you restrict applications from accessing your data? Why?
3) My employer has made it clear that what I do on social media is an extension of my professional life and I am expected to adhere to the same standards as if I was working — but never has asked for my password. What kind of expectations are there in your job about using social media?