Data Privacy: A Corporate High-Wire Act


Unless you had a terribly deprived childhood you went to the circus at some point. Being an animal lover, I was one of those kids who was amazed at how someone trained lions and tigers. My next favorite act was the high wire.

The performers not only crossed the arena on that tightrope with no net, risking a splat landing, they would bounce around, almost dancing. Then it got really impressive when stars like Karl Wallenda would cross with an associate or two balancing on his shoulders.

Despite my youthful theories that those performers cheated with something like magnetic shoes, the act was all about balance. As a kid I didn't realize the role that balance would play in all of our lives. Work/life balance. Balanced diet. Taoism if you're into that. And finding balance in personal relationships.

Now, with the emerging issues in data privacy, balance takes on new meaning, new importance.

This week's tech media news feed was packed with articles about big data: Some proclaimed the importance of big data analytics in fighting terrorism; others cited how criminals are using big data against their victims and how police must respond; big data was seen as a way to make insurance companies more effective (profitable); and big data was pitched as a source for medical miracles.

Each of those uses for big data raised privacy issues for all of us, the innocents as well as those who would do us harm.

I mentioned in a recent blog, A2 Academy: Privacy in the Spotlight, that data privacy is a relatively new concern when viewed in the big picture of history. Prior to 15 or 20 years ago we might have worried about our medical records falling off a cart, a sales clerk stealing the carbon copy of our credit card transaction, or, in the extreme, government officials tapping our home phone. We worried that credit agencies might get our data wrong, but we didn't think someone in Russa could break into their computers.

Today, it feels like the whole world can see our financial, medical, and travel histories, and we even acknowledge that what happens in Vegas might not stay in Vegas.

Those fears stem from all those data-driven applications to which we are addicted. Come on, give us just one more cool iPhone app.

As consumers and citizens those fears haunt you. As analytics professionals you aren't just feed your habit with the cool app, you help to build it. You become the trustee for everyone else's personal data. You balance the need to help your company grow with the tasks of safeguarding and responsibly using all that data that really belongs to millions of others.

Our upcoming All Analytics Academy: Data Privacy for You, For All will feature experts who, in large part, will focus on the high-wire act that is data privacy. The speakers in our five sessions will share best practices in areas such as protecting customer data, finding the balance between marketing initiatives and protecting customer privacy, expanding your business globally while dealing with myriad and contradictory privacy policies, and protecting employee and corporate data.

The whole idea with the academy is that you get advice that you can apply to your job. So, I hope you will sign up for any or all of the five sessions and tune in to the presentations during the first two weeks of November.

James M. Connolly, Editor of All Analytics

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editor of All Analytics he writes about the move to big data analytics and data-driven decision making. Over the years he has covered enterprise computing, the PC revolution, client/server, the evolution of the Internet, the rise of web-based business, and IT management. He has covered breaking industry news and has led teams focused on product reviews and technology trends. Throughout his tech journalism career, he has concentrated on serving the information needs of IT decision-makers in large organizations and has worked with those managers to help them learn from their peers and share their experiences in implementing leading-edge technologies through publications including Computerworld. Jim also has helped to launch a technology-focused startup, as one of the founding editors at TechTarget, and has served as editor of an established news organization focused on technology startups and the Boston-area venture capital sector at MassHighTech. A former crime reporter for the Boston Herald, he majored in journalism at Northeastern University.

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Re: Data Privacy
  • 12/22/2016 6:49:10 PM
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@mag: Indeed.  At least the dogs in this modern-day scenario are limited into their abilities in chasing the mail deliverers (i.e., the drones)!  They can't fly, after all.

Re: Data Privacy
  • 11/8/2016 9:23:51 AM
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@Joe I guess dogs are still the dilemma of mailmen, however technologically advanced they may be!

Re: Data Privacy
  • 11/2/2016 6:08:50 AM
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@magneticnorth: It's an issue here, too, and not just with the postal service.

A supposedly true story I heard at a conference yesterday involved an Amazon drone delivering a package of cupcakes to someone in their backyard -- but when the person got home, they had discovered that their dog had gotten into it and eaten the cupcakes!

Re: Data Privacy
  • 11/2/2016 6:06:50 AM
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1 saves

@Terry: And, indeed, certain languages are prone, with less skilled coders, to certain errors and security flaws (the C languages proneness to buffer overflows and memory leakage comes to mind).

To this end, business models for source-code checking/QC are very in right now.

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/31/2016 5:47:53 AM
NO RATINGS

@Broadway: Clearly, she's a fan of the Fonz.

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/31/2016 5:47:01 AM
NO RATINGS

> ...and got burned big time.

I see what you did there.  ;D

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/30/2016 4:28:22 PM
NO RATINGS

@mn Thanks for that bit of potentially life-saving advice! :) I do wonder how many Note 7s are still out in the wild these days...

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/30/2016 11:42:52 AM
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@tinym The Note 5 and 7 look similar, but the edge gives the Note 7 away.

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/30/2016 11:37:46 AM
NO RATINGS

@SaneIT that makes me very happy that my country's postal service sucks so much that people don't even use it anymore. We're not worried about our data getting stolen—we're worried that our packages are getting stolen.

Re: Data Privacy
  • 10/27/2016 10:21:49 PM
NO RATINGS

tinym, I would go to sleep and pray that if something bad happens, I didn't wake up. How dangerous could that be on a flight? I'd imagine the flight crew would snap into action and spray the sucker with an extinguisher before serious harm befell the plane.

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