Re: [betaNYC] A Day in the Life of a New York City Taxi
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 8:17 AM
Just because you can do something doesn't
mean it's the right thing to do. Yes you can tweet all kinds of details
about people without their permission, and it is up to the individual in
a free society to determine their responsibility to their own values and
to their fellow citizens. But a government has broader powers and
responsibilities and we citizens have the right to expect our government
will publish data that benefits us all without being at the expense of
Privacy protection in the age of pervasive
state surveillance is not hyperbole and we should never make public policy
decisions based on the technical skills of journalists.
This is an important debate and it should
continue. I'd be grateful if you could schedule a Wednesday BetaNYC
meetup on this topic.
Motto: "Do First, Think, Do it Again"
Whong <[address removed]>
[betaNYC] A Day in the Life of a New York City Taxi|
Sorry for late response,
was AFK most of the evening. Describing the de-anonymization of these
taxi trips as a "Privacy Fiasco" is nothing short of hyperbole,
and makes for sensational news pieces and slippery slope "what-ifs"
in the comments section. As Jacob and Andrew have pointed out, the
real issue is whether it should have been anonymized in the first place,
not that it was de-anonymized. I suspect that the reporters wouldn't
have given a damn if there wasn't any techy talk of MD5 algorithms and
Most open data-minded people
I've spoken with over the past few weeks consider this a critical lesson
about anonymization on a public dataset where the consequences of deanonymization
are negligible, and I am inclined to agree. Better hack licenses
and driver names, which are
already public and downloadable in plain text,
than social security numbers.
To put it another way, would
I be violating the driver's privacy if I tweeted all of the details of
my taxi trip as it happened, including the driver's name, photo and license
number? Does my right to know who he/she is only apply to me as a
passenger, right then and there during my ride, or does everyone have a
right to know, all the time? The data are just this information times
173 million with a 6-month delay, collected using our tax dollars, and
extremely useful for studying the transportation ecosystem AND the effectiveness
of the current regulatory setup.
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