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Why the World's Top Computing Experts Are Worrying About Your Data

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Crunching big data.

Computer science experts at last week's Heidelberg Laureate Forum discussed working together to determine how data collection on consumers can be kept from causing harm.

Credit: IDGNS

Many of the world's top computer science experts met last week at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum to determine how the widespread collection of data about consumers can be prevented from causing harm in the future.  

Much of today's data collection happens on the websites people visit, and that can spill over into surveillance by governments, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) Jeremy Gillula.  

Most of the participants at the forum agreed there is a need for better mechanisms for protecting individuals' privacy, as well as for more transparency on the part of those collecting and using the data.  "We need a policy approach" that offers not just privacy by design, but privacy by default, says Carnegie Mellon University professor Alessandro Acquisti.  

Although public policy and legislation are one approach to the problem, some experts do not see much reason for optimism in that direction.  The EFF already has published a "Do Not Track" policy, which organizations can adopt, and it is working on a Privacy Badger, a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that blocks spying ads and invisible trackers.

The EFF also advocates end-to-end encryption because government agencies cannot do mass surveillance if all the data is encrypted, according to Gillula.

From IDG News Service
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Abstracts Copyright © 2015 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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