Crypto Currency

Personal Data Collection: The Complete Wired Guide

staying in and watching a movie, generate mountains of information, treasure to be scooped up later by businesses of all kinds.Personal data is often compared to oil—it powers today’s most profitable corporations, just like fossil fuels energized those of the past. But the consumers it’s extracted from often know little about how much of their…


staying in and watching a movie, generate mountains of information, treasure to be scooped up later by businesses of all kinds.

Personal data is often compared to oil—it powers today’s most profitable corporations, just like fossil fuels energized those of the past. But the consumers it’s extracted from often know little about how much of their information is collected, who gets to look at it, and what it’s worth. Every day, hundreds of companies you may not even know exist gather facts about you, some more intimate than others. That information may then flow to academic researchers, hackers, law enforcement, and foreign nations—as well as plenty of companies trying to sell you stuff.

What Constitutes “Personal Data”?

The internet might seem like one big privacy nightmare, but don’t throw your smartphone out the window just yet. “Personal data” is a pretty vague umbrella term, and it helps to unpack exactly what it means. Health records, social security numbers, and banking details make up the most sensitive information stored online. Social media posts, location data, and search-engine queries may also be revealing but are also typically monetized in a way that, say, your credit card number is not. Other kinds of data collection fall into separate categories—ones that may surprise you. Did you know some companies are analyzing the unique way you tap and fumble with your smartphone?

All this information is collected on a wide spectrum of consent: Sometimes the data is forked over knowingly, while in other scenarios users might not understand they’re giving up anything at all. Often, it’s clearsomethingis being collected, but the specifics are hidden from view or buried in hard-to-parse terms-of-service agreements.

Consider what happens when someone sends a vial of saliva to 23andme. The person knows they’re sharing their DNA with a genomics company, but they may not realize it will be resold to pharmaceutical firms. Many apps use your location to serve up custom advertisements, but they don’t necessarily make it clear that a hedge fund may also buy that location data to analyze which retail stores you frequent. Anyone who has witnessed the same shoe advertisement follow them around the web knows they’re being tracked, but fewer people likely understand that companies may be recording not just their clicks but also the exact movements of their mouse.

In each of these scenarios, the user received something in return for allowing a corporation to monetize their data. They got to learn about their genetic ancestry, use a mobile app, or browse the latest footwear trends from the comfort of their computer. This is the same sort of bargain Facebook and Google offer. Their core products, including Instagram, Messenger, Gmail, and Google Maps, don’t cost money. You pay with your personal data, which is used to target you with ads.

Who Buys, Sells, and Barters My Personal Data?

The trade-off between the data you give and the services you get may or may not be worth it, but another breed of business amasses, analyzes, and sells your information without giving you anything at all: data brokers. These firms compile info from publicly available sources like property records, marriage licenses, and court cases. They may also gather your medical records, browsing history, social media connections, and online purchases. Depending on where you live, data brokers might even purchase your information from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Don’t have a driver’s license? Retail stores sell info to data brokers, too.

The information data brokers collect may be inaccurate or out of date. Still, it can be incredibly valuable to corporations, marketers, investors, and individuals. In fact, American companies alone are estimated to have spent over $19 billion in 2018 acquiring and analyzing consumer data, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Data brokers are also valuable resources for abusers and stalkers. Doxing, the practice of publicly releasing someone’s personal information without their consent, is often made possible because of data brokers. While you can delete your Facebook account relatively easily, getting these firms to remove your information is time-consuming, complicated, and sometimes impossible. In fact, the process is so burdensome that you can pay a service to do it on your behalf.

Amassing and selling your data like this is perfectly legal. While some states, including California and Vermont, have recently moved to put more restrictions on data brokers, they remain largely unregulated. The Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates how information collected for credit, employment, and insurance reasons may be used, but some data brokers have been caught skirting the law. In 2012 the “person lookup” site Spokeo settled with the FTC for $800,000 over charges that it violated the FCRA by advertising its products for purposes like job background checks. And data brokers that market themselves as being more akin to digital phone books don’t have to abide by the regulation in the first place.

There are also few laws governing how social media companies may collect data about their users. In the United States, no modern federal privacy regulation exists, and the government can even legally request digital data held by companies without a warrant in many circumstances (though the Supreme Court recently expanded Fourth Amendment protections to a narrow type of location data).

The good news is, the information you share online does contribute to the global store of useful knowledge: Researchers from a number of academic disciplines study social media posts and other user-generated data to learn more about humanity. In his book,Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,Seth Stephens-Davidowitz argues there are many scenarios where humans are more honest with sites like Google than they are on traditional surveys. For example, he says, fewer than 20 percent of people admit they watch porn, but there are more Google searches for “porn” than “weather.”

Personal data is also used by artificial intelligence researchers to train their automated programs. Every day, users around the globe upload billions of photos, videos, text posts, and audio clips to sites like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. That media is then fed to machine learning algorithms, so they

Read More

Be the first to write a comment.

Leave a Reply

Crypto Currency

How much do you know about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin?

How much do you know about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin? mashable.com


How much do you know about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin? mashable.com
Read More

Continue Reading
Crypto Currency

The trailer for ‘CRYPTO’ just dropped, and cryptocurrency is good now

With all the exit scams, weird meat obsessions, and cantankerous fan-boy culture, the world of cryptocurrency is kind of a drag. And that’s without even touching on the current and persistent bear market.  But all that has changed, denizens of the internet. Cryptocurrency is good now, and we owe it all to the trailer for…


With all the exit scams, weird meat obsessions, and cantankerous fan-boy culture, the world of cryptocurrency is kind of a drag. And that’s without even touching on the current and persistent bear market. 

But all that has changed, denizens of the internet. Cryptocurrency is good now, and we owe it all to the trailer for the upcoming crypto-themed action flick starring none other than Snake Plissken himself. Say hello toCRYPTO, the film that, like its eponymous subject matter, features a bunch of idiots fighting over bullshit and terrible security practices. 

The trailer for the film, featuring an appropriately bedraggled Kurt Russell, hit the internet on March 11 and oh boy did it get our blood flowing. Go ahead and take a peek. We’ll wait. 

Breathtaking, right? Did you take a moment to bathe in the reflected glory of Luke Hemsworth and Alexis Bledel. Yes? Good, let’s move on.

The story, as much as there appears to be one, follows an anti-money laundering expert’s trip to small town America and a subsequent run in with the Russian mob. But put that aside for a moment, and let’s focus on the verisimilitude of the thing. 

It can only go up.

It can only go up.

Image: screenshot / “crypto”

From the amazing file labeling system (hello “KICKBACKS”), to the apparent Coinbase knockoff DELTA COIN listing bitcoin cash at $983.74 (which, LOL),CRYPTOproves that the true cryptocurrency

Read More

Continue Reading
Crypto Currency

9 Questions for Facebook After Zuckerberg’s Privacy Manifesto

presented an entirely new philosophy. For 15 years, the stated goal of Facebook has been to make the world more open and connected; the unstated goal was constructing a targeted advertising system built on nearly infinite data. Yesterday, though, Zuckerberg pronounced that the company is reversing course. The social network of the future won’t be…


presented an entirely new philosophy. For 15 years, the stated goal of Facebook has been to make the world more open and connected; the unstated goal was constructing a targeted advertising system built on nearly infinite data. Yesterday, though, Zuckerberg pronounced that the company is reversing course. The social network of the future won’t be one where everyone connects openly together, as in a town square; it will be one where more connections happen one to one, as in a living room. Instead of data permanence, data will disappear.

Facebook isn’t putting the current platform—worth roughly half a trillion dollars—in the garbage disposal. As Zuckerberg made clear in a Wednesday afternoon interview with WIRED, Facebook as we know it now will still exist. But it will change. And there will also just be something new.

It’s unclear the extent to which Facebook will ultimately push users toward privacy, and in what exact ways. But Zuckerberg controls Facebook, and his manifesto will make its gears start to turn in different directions. As that begins, here are nine important questions the company will have to think through.

1. Facebook knows how to make money in the town square. How does it make money in this new living room?

Private, encrypted messaging is hard to monetize. In our interview, Zuckerberg demurred when asked what the new business model will be after clamping down on the data firehose. The company would, he said, build the product first and figure out the financials later. Facebook does have nascent efforts in commerce and cryptocurrency, but there’s no question that figuring out revenue on the new platform will be a hard problem for Dave Wehner, Facebook’s chief financial officer. A former Facebook employee told me last night, “Mark is like a cartoon character who walks through a bunch of dangerous situations and always comes out on top. Dave is the guy running behind him catching the cat, stopping the ladder from tipping, deflecting the flying axe with a manhole cover.”

2. What does this do to safety on the platform?

Facebook rightly faces endless criticism for all the data it collects. But there are benefits to data collection as well. It can help stop bullies, or even potential suicides. Once those communications become private, Facebook no longer has the same powers to track and moderate. The public—from the media, to nonprofits, to academics, to individuals, to the government—also uses the public nature of Facebook to track bad behavior. If Russian intelligence operatives had just used private encrypted messaging to manipulate Americans, would they have been caught? As Facebook knows from running WhatsApp, which is already end-to-end encrypted, policing abuses gets ever harder as messages get more hidden.

In our interview, Zuckerberg explained that this, not fears about the business model, is what keeps him up at night. “There is just a clear trade-o

Read More

Continue Reading
Crypto Currency

Cryptography experts are already laughing at ‘Facebook Coin’

Facebook’s rumored cryptocurrency project hasn’t even launched, and yet it’s already a punchline for the tens of thousands of security professionals, cryptographers, and researchers gathered at the annual RSA conference.  On March 5, in the San Francisco Moscone Center, the hotly anticipated Cryptographers’ Panel met to discuss the future of cryptography, the internet, and e-commerce.…


Facebook’s rumored cryptocurrency project hasn’t even launched, and yet it’s already a punchline for the tens of thousands of security professionals, cryptographers, and researchers gathered at the annual RSA conference. 

On March 5, in the San Francisco Moscone Center, the hotly anticipated Cryptographers’ Panel met to discuss the future of cryptography, the internet, and e-commerce. Of course cryptocurrency came up, with a mention of the so-called Facebook Coin drawing perhaps the biggest laugh of the talk. 

Speaking of the problems inherent in putting even great research ideas into practice, panelist and cryptography expert Paul Kocher (known for, among other things, co-discovering Spectre) told attendees that the blockchain only makes things trickier. 

“[The] idea of combining Bitcoin’s theft mitigation and Facebook’s privacy seems particularly toxic for users.”

“When you add the froth of blockchain into there, these just sort of things that seem crazy just keep amplifying,” he explained. “I think the latest one that I saw is one where you can take Bitcoin where you can lose your money, Facebook you can lose your privacy, and now t

Read More

Continue Reading