Big Data and Privacy Concerns

By Nathan Segal

The collection of big data has been around for quite some time, as are ways of sorting through that data, using techniques such as data mining. One major concern is the issue of data collection and privacy.


This issue comes into sharp focus, especially where social media is concerned.  Many people have been lulled into a false sense of security when using these sites, many of which offer a treasure trove of information.


:“None of your data is safe,” according to writer Jeffrey Van Camp. “None of these services (cloud storage companies) guarantee the protection of any files you upload, and there are no promises that these services won’t freely share your files and information with the government or other companies.”


It gets worse. In this article in The Huffington Post, “the CTO of the CIA, Ira "Gus" Hunt said that the world is increasingly awash in information from text messages, tweets, and videos -- and that the agency wants all of it.” Not only that, the agency wants to keep it “forever.”


How Consumers Feel About Big Data and Privacy

The concern over how big data is used is causing concern with consumers. According to this article on Business2Community.com, “About 49% of the consumers are less willing to share their personal information.”

“Many consumers are now aware about the dangers of sharing their personal information and the security issues involved by consenting to the sharing of their personal information online.”


Be Careful What You Post Online

A seemingly innocuous post today could have serious consequences down the road. As a case in point, your new “friend” on facebook might actually be the FBI.

Social media, while useful, can also create major privacy problems. One of the worst offenders is facebook, as seen in the article “Five Hidden Dangers of Facebook.” Another article discusses “The Dangers of Facebook (aimed at protecting the privacy of young people).

And if that’s not enough, The Daily Mail (UK) features an article with a list of hundreds of words which you should avoid using online if you don’t want the government to spy on you.


How to Protect Your Privacy

The issues of cyberbullying and cyberstalking are a very serious problem for those affected. Many users of social media sites post too much information about their personal lives, which could lead the cyberbully/cyberstalker to their doorstep.

A simple way to avoid this problem is to use a ghost address, which is an address where you do not live. To do this you would use a mail forwarding service. There, you will get a postal box which looks like a real address. An example is: 1234-55 Main Street, Anywhere, WA.

The way to protect yourself is to use that address for both your driver’s license and your car insurance. If you vehicle is ever broken into or stolen, the thief won’t be able to access your real address. If you have serious security issues and you want to remain anonymous, visit the JJ Luna website. Make sure you buy a copy of his book: “How to Be Invisible.”


Create a New Identity

For some people their privacy has been repeatedly violated by savvy stalker who knows how to track them online, which can create a living Hell, especially if the stalking has been going on for years. The only real solution is to disappear using the techniques in How to Be Invisible or to create an new identity. At “The Daily Dot,” author Patrick Howell O’Neil takes you through the process.

Of the many steps, here are a few that stand out:

·         Get a clean computer

·         Use anonymity software

·         Create new identity

·         Mask your money

Phone Privacy

There are many things users can do to protect their phone privacy.


If you have a smart phone, one thing you can do is to install Mr. Number, an app which allows you to selectively block unwanted calls by hanging up on the caller or by sending them to voice mail.


If you don’t want to give out your phone number, install Burner (for the iPhone or Android). It allows you to create phone numbers which last for a limited time.

If you don’t want to give out your primary phone number you can use of Google Voice.

Another option is to use a pager.

If you are concerned about data collection or GPS tracking, don’t use a smart phone. Use a disposable phone or buy a cell phone made several years ago, one that doesn’t have GPS tracking.


Another option is a John’s Phone. This is a simple cell phone with no GPS tracking, no cameras or text messaging. It’s a simple, unlocked phone you can use anywhere.



As you can see by this and the previous article, big data is important, not only from a demographics standpoint, but also from the issue of privacy. Many people have been lulled into a false sense of security online. If privacy is an issue for you, this article will help you protect yourself online and off.





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