The Challenges of Ethical AI

There have been dozens of articles and news pieces about the need for “ethics in AI” or “ethical AI.”  This (apparently brand new) issue arises from a number of causes, including public concern over facial recognition, the use of automated decisionmaking, and the ongoing public fascination with the darker side of artificial intelligence (see: Black… Read More

Who’s Afraid of a Data Breach?

One curious effect of the commonness of data breaches is that we’ve become inured against shock.  It used to be that a sizeable data breach was big news, certainly if the data lost or accessed was of a sensitive nature.  Remember the Target data breach in 2013?  It dominated news cycles for weeks, largely because… 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

Thinking About Data Partnership Contracts – From Data Leverage

We’ve know a number of clients or friends whose businesses are going through the initial phases of a data partnership lately.  These relationships are often mission-critical, because without the added benefits of the data partnership, sometimes entire business strategies fall apart.  At the same time, if you don’t take a thoughtful approach to establishing the… 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

How to Protect Your Data in a Data Partnership – from “Data Leverage”

We spend an enormous amount of time talking about the benefits of data partnerships but, of course, they aren’t without their risks.  No one enters into a business relationship assuming that everything will go exactly as planned (without serious problems later, anyway).  But how do you identify ways to protect your business, your data, and… Read More

Data is Not the “New X.” Data is You.

If we’ve had this happen once, it’s happened several dozen times.  We’ll be discussing our book, or our practice, or how we approach privacy issues, and someone will say something like “Yes, well, you know, data is the new x.”  And x can be anything.  Oil, money, gold, papayas, whatever. The analogy is, essentially, that… 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

You Can’t Copy/Paste Privacy

Ask any young litigation associate in a large law firm what the most important skill they learned in their first few years practicing was, and the honest ones will say “Control-c, Control-v.”  Yes, Copy-and-Paste activities occupy an enormous portion of young associates’ time, for a number of reasons.  They’re risk averse, so they want to… 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

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

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

Employee Monitors and Big Brother at Work

Although we consistently discuss the importance of managing data about customers or partners, it’s crucial to pay attention to a key demographic of your intrinsic datasets – employees.  Your team generates an enormous volume of data simply by showing up to the office (HR data, payment information, personal login details and passwords, etc), and the… Read More

Why You Need a Data Audit Team

Every so often, we like to include an excerpt from our book Data Leverage to give you an idea of what we recommend to clients. Today, we want to touch on a topic that gets far less attention than it deserves – the importance of a data audit team. When we suggest to people we… Read More

The Joke’s On You

There are times when it’s difficult to pick a topic to write about for this blog, because data privacy and data partnerships are such broad subjects that it’s like selecting from an unlimited menu of issues.  We could discuss GDPR or CCPA or a data breach or technological trends or creating a mutually beneficial data… Read More