Digital School Daze

The last week of August is a very strange time, and not only because August is preternaturally long — it sometimes feels like it’s an entire season unto itself. It’s even more confusing because it runs smack into the ever-earlier arrival of the drink which must not be named, but whose presence means it’s time… Read More

What it Means to “Control” Data

There is an unconventional data partnership structure based around controlling the data that others have about you. Remember, most businesses gather datasets from their operations. However, each record of those datasets is usually referencing one particular entity, like a person or a business or a product. There is an entire partnership structure around the entities… Read More

Groundhog Day(s)

Any philosophy nerd will tell you that they’ve loved having The Good Place on TV the last few years.  It’s rare we’re able to find a safe space to talk about the Trolley Problem, or consider the Question of Evil, or hear Kierkegaard’s name pronounced (mostly) properly.  It’s a great show, and one that consistently… Read More

Two Gifts You Should Think About Returning

Happy Boxing Day from everyone at Ward PLLC.  We hope that you’re all having an enjoyable, and suitably private, holiday season. For many people, today is a day of quiet, calm, reflection, relaxation, and desperately trying to find out if you can get cash refunds from Restoration Hardware for the gifts your in-laws inexplicably decided… Read More

The Privacy Quadrant: A DataSmart Approach to User Consent

Very often, we hear clients or businesses express the idea that “we want to give our customers control over the privacy of their data, and that sounds good, but making it a reality is much more complicated.”  That’s a fair assessment — operationalizing privacy is something that companies in the U.S. have a difficult time… Read More

Apple Plays the Long (Privacy) Game

You may have seen yesterday that Apple took another step in its recent efforts to become the public’s favorite privacy-protecting tech giant.  At WWDC, the company’s annual developer conference, CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new “Sign In with Apple” feature, a user authentication platform.  Like the secure sign-on (SSO) platforms designed by Google and Facebook,… Read More

The Contours of Facial Recognition

When you think about it, facial recognition is a deeply “human” action.  It’s the most common way for people to recognize one another, it’s one of the earliest stages of our developmental attachment to our parents, and it is, by far, the easiest way to evaluate someone’s credibility, intentions, and personality.  It explains why we… Read More

Genetic Testing and the Illusion of Privacy (Policies)

One recent trend that makes privacy professionals very nervous is the “what’s my DNA say about me” fad.  You swab your cheek, mail it off to a lab, and presto: you learn that you’re 99% Irish/Scottish and 1% Pacific Islander with a high chance of getting appendicitis.  Obviously, unlocking the mysteries of our ancestry is… Read More

What’s Five Billion Among (Facebook) Friends?

The Internet went into full “give me a Drudge Report siren” mode last week about Facebook’s announcement that it anticipates a fine of three to five billion dollars from the FTC in the coming months.  The fine, a result of Facebook’s violation of a 2011 consent decree with the Commission related to privacy practices, tracking,… Read More

The Dangers of a Biometric Future

Biometric data is information at its most sensitive.  Not only do health and physical characteristics carry with them the very concept of our personhood and humanity, they are also often immutable and, therefore, permanently identify us.  I can change my email address or my password, and I can even get a new legal name if… Read More

Curb Your (AI)nthusiasm

The Boston Dynamics “dogs” have become something of an inside joke around here: any time we want to suggest that an idea, project, or new technology might have worrisome long-term implications, the robotic canines come up in conversation.  Much of it has to do with their somewhat surreal, uncanny valley look, something familiar enough to… Read More

The World’s Toughest Internet Law?

It seems that every time we turn around, there’s new data or Internet legislation on the table that the media describes along the lines of  “similar to the GDPR,” or “GDPR-like.”  It makes sense, of course, given that the GDPR is the most important legislation on privacy in several generations, though it can blur some… Read More

Super-Humans Nudging Us Through Surveillance Capitalism – a Bestseller Venn Diagram

This week I completed a book by Shoshana Zuboff that my brother, James, had pointed me toward. I had also recently completed two other books that have been on my list for quite some time. The timing of each of these books and their futurist warning, deep research, and outstanding storytelling caused a flurry of… Read More

FTC’s Privacy Report Card

It’s that time of year again – the FTC has released its report on enforcement activity in 2018, including its efforts at enforcing privacy promises.  It was, as you might expect, a busy year, with major proceedings instituted against a number of high-profile entities like Uber, Paypal, and Facebook.  Although the total amount in fines… Read More

Data Leverage: Unlocking the Surprising Growth Potential of Data Partnerships

We are proud to announce the release of our book, Data Leverage: Unlocking the Surprising Growth Potential of Data Partnerships.  This book, which outlines our approach to establishing partnerships, sharing data, and protecting data assets, is a single-source guide for what we believe the most important aspects of data management programs are.  We could not be… Read More