• Helen Pritchett

Data in the News August 2019

Has Twitter Let Users Down?

Twitter data breach

It’s come to light that Twitter may have shared your data with ad partners without consent. This information may include information about ads users have engaged with and assumptions about devices they use.

CNet reports that Twitter stated it recently found issues with how it adheres to user privacy settings and that it may have inadvertently shared user data with third parties. The microblogging network said in a company blog post on Tuesday that it may have shared certain user data without permission to do so.

According to Twitter users who clicked or viewed an ad on the app since May 2018 may have shared data about the experience with third-party measurement and advertising partners. Such data would have shared includes users' country code, information about the ad, whether they engaged with the ad and when.

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Is Anonymising personal data enough?

According to new UCLouvain and Imperial College research, current methods for anonymising data leave individuals at risk of being re-identified.

With the first large fines for breaching EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations upon us, and the UK government about to review GDPR guidelines, researchers have shown how even

anonymised datasets can be traced back to

individuals using machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence.

The researchers say their paper, published in Nature Communications, demonstrates that allowing data to be used – to train AI algorithms, for example – while preserving people’s privacy, requires much more than simply adding noise, sampling datasets, and other de-identification techniques.

The researchers say their findings should be a wake-up call for policymakers on tightening the rules for what constitutes truly anonymous data.

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Does the EU Care About Our Personal Data?

The Next Web reports this week that in July, high-level EU officials finally confirmed the UK made illegal copies of classified personal information from an EU database. Despite this, it doesn’t seem the EU Commission will take any action, which — to concerned members of European Parliament — highlights its and EU member states’ hypocritical and dangerous approach to people’s privacy.

A secret report outlined many years of violations by British authorities after they received restricted access to the Schengen Information System (SIS) back in 2015.

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Is it Time for Tighter Regulation of how Facebook and Google use our Data?

Data in the news
Combination of photos with the logos of Facebook and Google Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Peter Lewis reports in The Guardian about how big tech’s power has reached a tipping point. Governments must set some ground rules.

As the web evolves so does the capacity of websites to capture more and more about us. This ‘incidental information’ can be collected by embedding codes to track our journeys around the web or capturing the routes of our mapping service or logging each interaction we

have with Siri.

This data has become the natural resource of the digital age, freely provided, though rarely consciously handed over, the terms embedded in click boxes that provide access to yet another free app platform. With the rapidly increasing capacity to collect and sort data, these platforms match our activity with other users to create lookalike profiles that purport to predict our desires and weaknesses.

This is fodder for any business that wants to sell us something or convince us of an idea or even replace our functions with those of a machine. By purporting to understand who we are, and thus predict what we will do next, our relationship with the web has transformed from consumer to product.

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