Tag Archives: private sharing

Differential privacy? No, Apple, it’s all about private sharing

We think private sharing is this year’s differential privacy – and we’ll tell you why

Apple has hit the headlines again with news that it may not be using its vaunted differential privacy tool – which mines user data while protecting that person’s identity – quite as it said it would.

Differential privacy was last year’s big news from Apple, which has always talked a strong game on protecting user data. The idea is that by injecting random noise into personal data before it is uploaded to the cloud, Apple’s dataset as a whole can produce meaningful insights without personally identifying any individual users. They may or may not have made some changes to that, which are not our concern here.

But what did pique our interest here at digi.me was the most interesting line from the article, one that talks about a “failure of imagination” in correlating disparate data sets.

A ‘failure of imagination’ is absolutely the one thing we don’t lack here, having built a product that does just that very effectively. And actually, we’re confident that what we call private sharing is a much better way of, well, sharing your data privately.

Why? Crucially, you have control of your datasets, in your own 100pc secure library. If you choose to store that in the cloud, you and only you control access to it – digi.me doesn’t see, hold or touch your data, ever.

The biggest deal is in how you share your data – which is only on your terms, with consent that can be revoked at any time, through our unique Consent Access platform.

In short – you’re in the personal data driving seat with digi.me.

But the ultimate private sharing isn’t really sharing at all – this is when an app – which you have consented to let see certain and defined elements of your data – runs an algorithm over that data, simply returning the result.

In this use case, which could be used for insurance or loan qualifying checks, no data has left your device, but the provider you’re working with has what they need to offer you the best rate as determined by your circumstances.

And because it hasn’t left your device, your data 100 per cent private, while still being shared in ways that benefit both you and companies dealing with you.

Differential privacy is so 2016. Private sharing is the future – and you heard about it from digi.me first.

 

 

Five personal data lessons we need to learn from the Equifax hack

The Equifax data breach, which has leaked critical personal information including Social Security numbers and birth dates on an estimated 143m Americans, as well as Britons and Canadians, is one of the largest ever, both in scale and the importance of the data stolen. So what lessons can we – and must we – learn from this demonstration of individual powerlessness in the face of data theft?

  1. Honeypots of data are hugely attractive to hackers. We know this, it’s common sense – and yet still we are persisting with the centralising of personal data rather than returning it to the individual. Putting each of us in control of our own personal data, so we can choose when and with whom it is shared, is all that makes sense.
  2. When our data is sold from behind our backs, we don’t know who has it. The nature of Equifax’s credit-scoring business, which takes data from a number of sources to help other companies assess creditworthiness, makes it hard to assess whose data was stolen – and for individuals, whether they were involved in the breach. Again, so much better to have individuals as the hub of all their data, sharing it with insurance companies, for eg, when needed, or letting algorithyms run over the data on the phone and just return the result, in what we at digi.me call private sharing.
  3. When our data has been breached by a third party, we’re reliant on them to tell us. Equifax has set up a website for people to check if their personal details were part of the breach, but there have been widespread reports of the site returning different results for the same data. It also requires a Social Security number, making it useless for anyone outside the US. Not to mention the fact that the breach took weeks to come to light, potentially giving the hackers time to use the information they had stolen before its owners even knew it was gone. We are not in control of our own data, which is created by us. That model – where our data is used for profit by others – needs to change.
  4. Those involved are at significant risk of fraud for years to come. This is not an email breach, where the people involved can simply change their passwords and (largely) put a stop to the damage. The information stolen, which also included addresses, drivers licence details and credit card numbers, means those affected are at significant risk of identity theft – and will be for years to come. We must use breaches such as these as drivers for change – otherwise nothing will change.
  5. Finally, and possibly most scary of all, we don’t know what this means. We don’t know if this hack will translate into increased levels of theft and fraud, or whether other information held by similar credit-scoring companies is any more secure. Or, indeed, whether Equifax will be punished for this breach.

What we do know is that trusting others with our personal information has seen it leaked over and over again. The fundamental method of personal data management must move back to the individual from central stores. And until it does, massive breaches of this scale, and the subsequent hassle and problems caused to those the data actually belongs to, will continue. Regulation has a part to play, but so too does consumer behaviour – and we need to be clear that this is not ok, on any level.

New Facebook ‘Moments’ App To Encourage Private Sharing

Hot on the heels of launching a standalone Messenger app, Facebook is now said to be working on a private sharing app that will operate independently from the main Facebook app. Reports are surfacing of ‘Moments’, an app that will allow users to share with preset groups of people, but without having to use the drop-down privacy options from the normal status update mechanism.

According to those who have seen ‘Facebook Moments‘, there is a grid of tiles representing sets of close friends or family, which users can tap on to quickly share an update with only that group.  It’s hoped that this will be a much easier mechanism for sharing with selected groups than the existing method, which involves having to fiddle around with the privacy settings every time you want to post an update to a select audience.

However, you might well be sitting there scratching your head, thinking to yourself “I’ll still have to create the sharing lists in the first place. won’t I?”, or indeed, “Isn’t this exactly the same as Circles on Google+?” Well, yes, is the short answer to both.

‘Friend Lists’ have existed for quite some time, but there seems to have been a relatively widespread reticence to making earnest use of the feature. There may be certain items of content that you could share with 10 friends, and other piece might only be appropriate for eight of them, but another item might be shared with a different eight people of the original 10.

Creating and naming multiple lists with almost infinite cross-over possibilities would be an arduous task for anyone, but with ‘Moments’, it should be as simple as carving out the subsets of users that you want to share with each time, so the groups that you can pick from grow organically. That’s the view of Josh Constine at TechCrunch, who has written an article covering what is currently known of ‘Moments’, and looks back at Facebook’s struggle with getting people to adopt Friend Lists.

What are your thoughts on Facebook potentially releasing another standalone app? The user backlash surrounding the forced use of  Facebook Messenger earlier in the year was palpable, and some confusion over mobile device app permissions certainly ruffled feathers with regards to Facebook user privacy. But with ‘Moments’ moving towards affording users greater privacy – or perhaps greater ease of privacy – when it comes to what they share with whom, will Facebook win back users’ trust? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.