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Data anonymization is hard – this time shown with NYC taxi data

One often hears that some massive collection of data will not have privacy implications because it has been “anonymized”. Any time you hear that, treat the statement with great skepticism. It turns out that effectively anonymizing data, making it impossible to identify the individuals in the data set, is much harder than you might think. [...]

Politico: Who watches the watchers? Big Data goes unchecked

Politico looks beyond the National Security Agency surveillance controversy to the data collection done on everyday Americans by commercial data brokers who then sell this information to others: Commercial data brokers know if you have diabetes. Your electric company can see what time you come home at night. And tracking companies can tell where you [...]

Boston Globe: Boston Medical Center fires vendor after data breach

The Boston Globe reports on a security breach that affected individuals’ medical privacy: Boston Medical Center said it fired a transcription service after a health care provider reported the records of about 15,000 patients at the hospital were posted without password protection on the vendor’s website used by physicians. The records contained patients’ names, addresses, [...]

Events of Interest: Privacy Principles in the Era of Massive Data (April 22)

The McCourt School of Public Policy and Georgetown University Law Center are hosting a panel discussion, “Privacy Principles in the Era of Massive Data.” There will be a keynote address by Federal Trade Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen. The panelists are: Edward Montgomery, Dean, McCourt School of Public Policy; Julie Cohen, Georgetown Law; Robert Groves, Provost, Georgetown [...]

New York Times: How Urban Anonymity Disappears When All Data is Tracked

The New York Times reports on the question of privacy through anonymity in public and how that can change as there is more constant surveillance of public spaces and retention of that surveillance data: Information about our innocuous public acts is denser in urban areas, and can now be cheaply aggregated. Cameras and sensors, increasingly [...]

Courthouse News Service: Class Claims College Hid Giant Data Breach

Courthouse News Service reports on a class-action lawsuit in Arizona concerning a security breach that affected the privacy of people connected with Maricopa County Community College District. PHOENIX (CN) – Maricopa County Community College District waited seven months to inform 2.5 million students, graduates, employees and vendors that its databases had been breached and their personal [...]

Christian Science Monitor: Privacy concerns? What Google now says it can do with your data (+video)

The Christian Science Monitor considers the issue of privacy and Internet services giant Google: Against a backdrop of growing privacy concerns, with every week bringing revelations of data breaches at government or corporate websites, online search behemoth Google quietly updated its terms of service Monday, spelling out just how much personal data it mines as [...]

EU Court: European Union Data Retention Directive Is Invalid

The Court of Justice of the European Union announced that it has ruled (pdf) that the EU’s Data Retention Directive is invalid. The court said: The Court observes first of all that the data to be retained make it possible, in particular, (1) to know the identity of the person with whom a subscriber or registered user [...]

Washington Post: Official: Court’s sign-off for queries on Americans’ data would be impractical

The Washington Post reports on surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, programs that have raised significant privacy and civil liberty questions:  A senior government lawyer said Wednesday that the high volume of searches that the National Security Agency makes of a database that holds Americans’ and foreigners’ communications would make [...]

60 Minutes: The Data Brokers Selling Your Personal Information

CBS’s “60 Minutes” had a segment on data brokers, companies that gather and sell personal information on individuals, and how they can affect an individual’s privacy: They’re called data brokers, and they are collecting, analyzing and packaging some of our most sensitive personal information and selling it as a commodity…to each other, to advertisers, even [...]