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Is de-identification a broken system?

How can partial bank account details be classified as non-personal data? Have you heard of the digital age Medusa?

Is Ireland ready to police the data world? Should more companies be considering data a "byproduct" - which can be maximised through a data sharing economy?

How can big data reduce police misconduct? Or save the planet? Would we understand climate change data more if we ate it? What role can AI have in healthcare and the judicial system?

A carefully curated summary of the top data-related news and trends from the week:


AT&T secretly sells customer data to local police departments through administrative subpoenas - which do not need to be issued by a judge: "To investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars". 💰💰 This includes call time, duration and location data and raises major privacy concerns. 🔍

Nearly 10,000 UK TV license payers have been hit by 169 BBC data breaches over the past decade - including partial bank account details, mobile phone numbers, addresses, and signatures. The Information Commissions Office claims only one data breach has been reported, but - crucially - they don't classify the above as "personal data".. 🤔

More than half a million Australian blood donors' have been affected by Red Cross data breach. IMPORTANT takeaway on the issue with deidentification of data: people can just "link multiple different datasets together to break people's privacy". 👀

Endace's data capture system "Medusa" has empowered GCHQ (along with other governments, telecommunications companies, and finance companies) to "see all" as part of mass surveillance programs 😮 - CONTROVERSIAL - can supposedly extract data on people's usage of online services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, WhatsApp, and Facebook. 🔦


Is Ireland ready to police the data world? 👮 All of the top 10 internet companies have significant operations or HQs in Ireland - and all data breaches need to be reported to the local authorities. So isn't a new national cybersecurity centre in Ireland ALREADY OVERDUE? - Crucially: "Ireland has to be exemplary in the management of data on its own turf before it tells the world how to manage its data too".. ☘

In-depth thought piece by John Kennedy reflecting on the real implications of the Mirai DDoS attack last week - which used vulnerable IoT devices to take down some of the biggest internet brands. Kennedy emphasises that tech companies have a "moral responsibility" to ensure devices and services are better protected. 💡 Also - Joon Ian Wong stresses that companies (producing IoT devices) need to start regulating themselves - BEFORE a third party body (such as the FTC) takes over and adds an array of other limitations. ☠

Big data

"To get more value from your big data, sell it" - INTERESTING perspective by Alan Lewis and Dan McKone for Harvard Business Review: "Many companies guard data like crown jewels - leaving money on the table. The key is to identify companies that aren't competitors - ones that operate in related fields but do not go head to head." ➡ Companies should consider used data a "byproduct" of business operations - which may have value to indirect competitors. ✅

Big data can prevent global health crises by building a "comprehensive picture of real-time dengue outbreaks". INTERESTING opinion - proposes an SMS-based data collection model to track and map diseases, such as the Zika virus. But - crucially - data sharing partnerships are required to generate tools like Dengue Track. 🤓🏥

How data can be used to fight police misconduct: lengthy but extremely WORTHWHILE and topical discussion. Is leveraging big data the answer to holding police officers accountable for racial profiling and misconduct - and preventing further cases like the murder of Laquan McDonald?


Harvard researchers have made the first 3-D-printed 'heart on a chip' 💖 - which is capable of collecting data on how strongly the organ is beating. Could this be a step towards the end of animal testing? 🐰

"You are now data, and your doctors are becoming software". THOUGHT PROVOKING article by Vivek Wadhwa on the integration of healthtech and AI: "Within a few years, our genome, microbiome, behaviour, and environment will all be mapped and measured, and AI-based prescriptive-medicine systems will help us feel better and live longer." 💉😷

Could AI also be used in the judicial system to rapidly identify patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes? Study finds AI 'lawyer' can predict the outcome of 79% of cases. 🆒 However, there are clear limitations: "AI can make a good guess but without direct appreciation of the wider context that guess may be widely off the mark".

Ecobee launched a 'Donate your Data' program for users "to share their data for a large-scale study into home energy efficiency and climate change". Is leveraging the power of big data going to be how we save our planet? 🌎✅

Jonathon Keats wants to increase people's understanding of climate change by "gastronifing" the data. Keats has produced an ice-cream with each ingredient representing a different system (e.g. greenhouse gases) which activates a different receptor in the gut (e.g. TRPM-5): "As you eat your way through all the data, you bring yourself closer and closer to the point of no return." 🌑

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