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The perils of big data

The perils of big data

Posted Sep 6, 2012 8:30 UTC (Thu) by massimiliano (subscriber, #3048)
In reply to: The perils of big data by Baylink
Parent article: The perils of big data

It's not necessary that you do that though; my favorite example of capability creep is automated toll pass records being subpoenaed to prove a divorce respondent was not where he claimed.

Hmmm... I generally agree with what you said in principle, but every time I see something like the text I quoted above I think that privacy protection risks to go overboard.

There are cases where what you did has legal implications, you should be legally required to say the truth about it, and "witnesses" should be legally required to testify about what you did, again telling the truth.

In those cases I see nothing wrong looking at the trail you left behind paying at an automated toll pass, or switching on your cell phone, or touching a glass without gloves and leaving your fingerprints on it. And I would even say that it is a good thing that those trails are there as long as they are only used when they are legally relevant.

Now, I understand that ensuring this "correctness of use" is not easy. But I also don't like it ending up like where I live, where the government is reducing the ability of the police to intercept phone calls so that the corrupted politicians can safely do their dirty business, and who cares if some other thief or murderer gets away with it in the process...

Back to the spouse case: I don't know if the laws regulating the contract of marriage require the spouses to be sincere with each other but I think they require them to be faithful, so lying in that context sounds illegal to me. And complaining that there's too much data about you that can be looked at to prove that you did something illegal looks strange to me: it's like saying "I want the right to do illegal things and get away with it".

So, again: I agree with what you were saying "in principle" but the example you choose looks plain wrong as an argument supporting privacy: if you want to retain the right to lie to your spouse, please don't get married.


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The perils of big data

Posted Sep 6, 2012 9:22 UTC (Thu) by ortalo (subscriber, #4654) [Link]

The devil is in the details (and in that specific case, in romantic stories too ;-).

Reality is rarely black or white, mostly nuances of gray.
Most of the time this is used to demonstrate evidence of cheating (prior to the separation) *in front of the judge* just to lower the other party credibility and gain more money. This is a misleading example IMHO because it seems to be related to love affairs, while it is a very business-like money issue.

BTW, legally speaking, I think cheating one's partner not only is not reprehensible, but it's a right.
Morally speaking, that's of course very questionable.
(And technically speaking, I imagine that's an organizational nightmare...)

The perils of big data

Posted Sep 6, 2012 9:23 UTC (Thu) by ortalo (subscriber, #4654) [Link]

Important personal footnote: Mary, note I said "I imagine"!

The perils of big data

Posted Sep 6, 2012 9:53 UTC (Thu) by massimiliano (subscriber, #3048) [Link]

Reality is rarely black or white, mostly nuances of gray.

This is true, but...

Most of the time this is used to demonstrate evidence of cheating (prior to the separation) *in front of the judge* just to lower the other party credibility and gain more money.

...there are cases where the true color of things should be assessed :-)

Specifically: when you are in front of a judge you should either say the truth, or have your lawyer claim that the issue is irrelevant and say nothing.

In this specific case, if it is relevant that you were in place X you should be true about it.

Or if it is irrelevant that you were in place X, and the other party is just trying to show that you are a liar, well: is it relevant that you are a liar? Would your soon-ex-spouse be legally entitled to more money because you, as a liar, made his-her life more painful?

Once again, if it is irrelevant just have your lawyer state it. But if it is relevant, in my book you are required to openly state "yes, I have been a liar to my spouse" and not childishly complain that there are facts that can prove it :-)

And BTW, your personal comment is priceless, it definitely made me smile (in a positive way!) :-D As a side-footnote, you could even not imagine it but "know it indirectly" because you see other people cheating, maybe your coworkers, and you see the mess it involves. So your Mary can still trust you even if you don't have to "imagine" :-)

Ok, enough LWN-offtopic for today!

The perils of big data

Posted Sep 6, 2012 13:10 UTC (Thu) by ortalo (subscriber, #4654) [Link]

That's not so off-topic.

First: Today, even LWN's comments are "worldwide publications" so... well... And that's the problem raised by the good old central database and the Internet as it is today. No way to have something like a random conversation somewhere that fully fades away in a short time (or other minor things that do not deserve posterity at all). That's something new with respect to privacy. Well, not so new now that it's 20-years old; but honestly I still find it difficult to adapt to the new scheme.

Second: Your reasoning is an interesting example of the potential impact of information inference, frequently forgotten.
From what I state, you can also deduce further things; and you also have to reason about the truth of what I say. And me, I would have to take into account when I write what every reader can deduce (no offense, but well... especially for Mary ;-).
And in this case, you did not even include information from multiple sources for your deductions (employer and job position for example).

What seems to me is that, confronted with these new issues in a connected world, there is nearly no way to fight against this privacy invasion; except by using the same tools to build more trust as a compensation.
For example: I'd like my computer to tell me more about readers of this comment that also look at my profile on a profesional social network, or that look at my physical address, etc. I don't think I would invade their privacy more than they would mine, I would be protecting myself as well as establishing a better trust network *with* them.

Very soon, we will rejoin: identifying liars is key to the topic.
Not only in front of a judge (though in this case, it is also legally reprehensible). Like investigators, one usually need evidence to spot liars and make a difference between random guys and... trustable husbands. ;-)


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