February 15, 2009

As Data Collecting Grows, Privacy Erodes

In Mr. Rodriguez’s case, he participated in a 2003 survey of steroid use among Major League Baseball players. No names were to be revealed. Instead, the results were supposed to be used in aggregation — to determine if more than 5 percent of players were cheating — and the samples were then to be destroyed.

It is odd that most of the news coverage described the tests as “anonymous.” If the tests were truly anonymous, of course, Mr. Rodriguez would still be thought of as a clean player — as he long had insisted he was. But when federal prosecutors came calling, as part of a steroid distribution case, it turned out that the “anonymous” samples suddenly had clear labels on them.

As a friend put it in an e-mail message: “Privacy is serious. It is serious the moment the data gets collected, not the moment it is released.”

Read more, but remember, they know everything about you.

1 comment:

Luis Fernandez said...

Dunno if you saw this, but its a good read and semi-related...