Learning that your smart TV might be eavesdropping on your private conversations is one thing. But discovering that the manufacturer believes the solution is to be careful what you say when near your TV set is something else. It is, in fact, a reflection of a flawed policy which puts the importance of new technology and big data ahead of human rights like privacy and data protection. Samsung recently acknowledged that there are some data governance issues with its latest generation of televisions. Like many other manufacturers, it has identified voice control as providing convenience and advantages, like no more lost remote controls. Just wake up the TV with a command and then tell it what you want to do. So far, so good. Except that this is not simply a conversation between the viewer...
Davos is not a place where you’d expect the issue of data and data security to get much of a look in, especially during the annual World Economic Forum get-together of the most powerful people on the planet. Physical security was clearly a concern at last week’s event (as was the issue of where to park all those private jets). Yet ahead of the gathering, WEF published its annual Global Risks Report which identified data fraud or theft as number nine in its list of the most likely risks to occur. This reflected a view among the respondents surveyed that the likelihood of a significant data breach (arising from criminal or state actors) had accelerated and was now scored 5.2 on a scale running to 7.0, putting it into the top ten for the first time. Clearly, the assault on Sony...
“You have to really argue to be against data. In a club, statistics give people the chance to exist who have little knowledge. And these numbers act as a safety guard for decision-makers who lack courage. That, yes, that annoys me.” - Gilles Grimandi, Arsenal chief scout (L’Equipe, 30th December 2014) Does a football scout have a better understanding about the barriers towards data and analytics in organisations than many business managers? Based on the comments he made in an interview at the end of last year, Grimandi may well prove to be the most insightful commentator on the up and downsides of transforming around evidence-based decision making. (You can read a translation of the full article here: http://www.getfootballnewsfrance.com/2014/giles-grimandi-...
Big data has been telling a big lie - that the data it uses is not personal and therefore it does not need to operate under the requirements of data protection laws. I have lost count of the number of presentations I have seen by big data practitioners - major brands, data owners, analytics services providers - talking about the behavioural, location and device data they capture, fuse and deploy against service provision or marketing. On their own, each of those pieces of data is legitimately non-PII. There is nothing about clickstream or device type that is very revealing in itself. As long as that information was being used for simple purposes, such as tracking user experience or monitoring mobile website availability, it was possible to argue that there was no need to apply the...
Google will today argue that the UK Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction over the collection and use of data by the search engine, even when it relates to UK consumers. Further, it is also seeking leave to appeal on a ruling that its data collection practices had caused damage and were a serious issue for the courts to consider. In a significant twist to a two-year legal argument, the Information Commissioner has made a last-minute application to intervene in the case. The appeal relates to the so-called “Safari  workaround” which Google developed when Apple shipped a version of the browser with the default set to block third-party cookies. Following complaints in the US, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Google to stop circumventing these settings, leading to a...
Government proposals to force ISPs to maintain data links between IP addresses and subscriber identities will change at a stroke a key cultural assumption about big data. Until now, online service providers have been making free with the information that flows from connecting a device to the internet on the basis that none of it is personally identifiable information.  That argument has long seemed thin - IP address, just like search terms or location data, may not be directly associated with a specific individual. Data scientists have repeatedly shown just how easy it is to infer who the user is based only on this supposedly anonymous information, however. With the new requirement to provide both connection history and user data to the security services, identification becomes...
Marketers and agencies are increasingly excited about the potential of real-time data. However, while the availability of real-time data has many benefits, there are potential pitfalls, too. An informative parallel is the outbreak of World War I, the centenary of which is being commemorated this year. This event might seem too distant to enlighten us, but there are many informative similarities. Like now, the Summer of 1914 was a time of rapid technological change. The telegraph had transformed communications - messages that had once taken days to convey could now be transmitted instantaneously.  Some historians, most notably Stephen Kern in “Culture of Time and Space”, have suggested that this new technology contributed to the war. Diplomats who had been trained in an...
Successful businesses are built on keeping customers happy so they remain loyal and, ultimately, spend more. When it comes to encouraging customer loyalty, the facts are simple - customers who have a good experience with a brand will return, as well as make positive recommendations to people around them. However, keeping customers happy is often easier said than done. The old saying, “the customer is always right”, is not always true and understanding the complexity of creating a positive customer experience can be tricky for brands to master. In today’s market, customers are more vocal than ever, sharing their opinions and views through their own social media channels, so businesses have to ensure they are always one step ahead by listening to what customers want and...
Google has once again had its wrists slapped by a European regulator - in this case, the data protection commissioner for Hamburg (acting on behalf of Germany as a whole). The demand is that users of the search engine giant (and its other owned services) should be asked for consent before any data captured on them is used for profiling. (For more on this story, go here) Two major issue jump out of this ruling (which it is far from clear that Google will actually respond to and respect - part of the company’s current slew of legal challenges across Europe stem from an unwillingness to act on previous demands relating to search rankings). The first is that Hamburg is acting ahead of what current European Union legislation actually requires. Since the “Cookies Law”...
One of the key results of the big data revolution is that the need for businesses to move data out of the IT department and into the boardroom is now widely understood and accepted. C-level executives are increasingly seeing data as a business asset, rather than a by-product of operations or merely something that the IT department needs to store and manage. Board-level conversations are no longer focused on historical data in the latest financial reports, but on how to get real-time access to current data to shape strategies and help improve decision-making. Everyone around the boardroom table is excited at the prospect of transforming what was once a hard-to-manage by-product of business operations into a valuable asset to help them gain an edge over the competition. In theory, all...