Facebook’s Privacy Game

Fads are a big part of January. Everyone wants to hashtag their efforts at keeping up their New Year’s Resolution (#NoCheeseMonth, #NoCarbMonth, #NoFunMonth), and our collective refusal to acknowledge that the holidays are over means we’re all still desperate for distractions. But nobody minds, because we all love fads — it’s why we get obsessed… Read More

2019: The Year of Meh

To me, the most meaningful meme of this year was “OK, Boomer” (Baby Yoda was a non-event, don’t @ me).  It not only perfectly captures the very real, politically potent generational conflict going on right now, but it also reflects how completely ignored Generation X is in our current culture wars. (I feel no guilt… 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

Enough with the Tracking Already

You may not have read the New York Times Privacy Project yet, but if not, now is the time to do so.  They have begun a series on the nature of tracking individuals via cellphones, armed with a treasure trove of over 50 billion pings on 12 million phones.  The results are dramatic, showing just… Read More

2019 Predictions: How Did We Do?

You may recall that we made some predictions way back in January about what would happen in privacy, privacy law, and data partnerships over the course of 2019.  Well, we believe in accountability, and so it’s time to check out how well we did.  There’s a reason that most people don’t reflect on their New… 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

Europe Gets Tough

One of the questions I hear most frequently is “will the GDPR be as big a deal as everyone promised?” Of course, the real question is “will the GDPR be as big a deal as you, Jay, promised,” and it is a fair one.  Privacy commentators spent a great deal of time in 2018 talking… Read More

Apple Plays the Long (Privacy) Gamers

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

Getting Bad Advice

The Internet is a risky place for “expertise.”  Because it is both a platform and a megaphone, it creates its own multiplier effect for whatever you put into it.  If the arguments of the last few years have proven anything, it’s that even a poorly concocted lie spreads far faster than a well-explained truth, largely… 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

Why You Need a Data Audit Team (Like Yesterday)

Creating a Culture of Data Privacy & Protection (An Excerpt) It fascinates us how few data audit teams we run into, regardless of company size or data asset library depth. Everyone is accustomed to financial audits; the very same principles can be put to work for your data strategy to monitor intrinsic and extrinsic data… 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

Organic Data and Digital Borders

The longer you spend in data-oriented businesses, the more you notice a funny thing about the language used to describe data sets and their uses.  While, early on, the language sounds a lot like what you’d use to describe currency (“valuable,” “fungible,” “velocity,”), eventually it all starts to sound like you’re talking about food (“organic,”… Read More

The Undefended Principles of a Free Internet

For most of us who remember a time before widespread access to the Internet (it was mostly Donald Duck games on your Commodore), going online was a decidedly American-feeling affair.  One could be forgiven the thought, given that the largest internet service provider for years was….America Online.  And, largely, that tracked the history and development… 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

We’re Learning the Wrong Lessons

It’s easy to criticize companies like Facebook or Google for their conduct when it comes to data, largely because they are so frequently the subject of widely-publicized reports and news articles. The stories documenting tech giant misdeeds (ironically, often displayed in Facebook’s newsfeed) demonstrate a growing awareness of surveillance capitalism and surveillance states, as well… Read More

Hardcoding Trust: One Year of Sad Privacy Responses From Your Favorite AI

What Zork can teach us about Google, Amazon, and Apple’s Commitment to Data Privacy. Data Privacy gets a lot of lip service these days. We have Apple declaring that they bake privacy into every product, Google deciding to delete millions of Google+ accounts (there were millions?) because of a coding bug that potentially exposed private… Read More