CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 56

Data is the pollution problem of the information age, and
protecting privacy is the environmental challenge.

and wouldn't have been published. Companies should

regulating the collection and use of our data, and raising

develop and implement an organization-wide deletion

the costs of retaining our data, we will incent new

policy. The ultimate way to secure data is to delete it.

business models that don't rely on surveillance. Credit
card companies don't have to track every purchase in

Deleting data goes against the
fundamental premise of big data-that
more data is better.

order to bill us and prevent fraud. The Internet can be

The key is to understand how much data is needed for

raising the cost of surveillance and data collection, new

what purpose. By and large, companies could make

businesses that don't rely on it will rise up and take the

do collecting much less data, and storing it for shorter

place of the current ones that do.

built with strong anonymity protections. Electronic cash
can be both secure and anonymous. All of these things
are possible-we just have to want them. If we succeed in

periods of time, than they do now. For example, many
retailers rely on ubiquitous surveillance to measure the
effectiveness of advertisements, infer buying patterns,
and so on. But they don't really need everyone's data
to do that. A representative sample is good enough
for those applications and was common when data
collection was expensive.

In addition to highlighting specific
security and privacy issues in your
work, you talk about them in the larger
societal context of the way we live
now-online, all the time.
Data is the pollution problem of the information age,

You also argue that with the right
legal and regulatory environment, we
will see the rise of businesses based
on collecting less data and better
protecting what is collected.

and protecting privacy is the environmental challenge.

Surveillance became the business model of the Internet

age and wonder how our ancestors could have ignored

because it was the easiest thing that made money and

pollution in their rush to build an industrial world, our

there were no rules regulating it. It has remained the

grandchildren will look back at us during these early

business model of the Internet because the costs are

decades of the information age and judge us on how we

low, the potential gains are enormous, and-at least in

addressed the challenge of data collection and misuse.

the U.S.-there are still no rules regulating it. By both

CTO Straight Talk | 56

Almost all computers produce personal information.
It stays around, festering. How we deal with it, how
we contain it, and how we dispose of it are central to
the health of our information economy. Just as we
look back today at the early decades of the industrial


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2


CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2