Generally, one hears the term “big data” and, in the next breath, about the host of privacy issues implicated by that big data. Indeed, a quick google search confirms that in many of the top links appearing in a google search of “big data” include the word “privacy.”

There is a reason for this, of course: big data often contains a lot of information aggregated from different sources about individuals. Many times, consumer do not know in the first place that different pieces of information about them have been collected (or, if they know it has been collected, they do not know the information has been retained); they do not know that such information has been aggregated; and they do not know the aggregated information has been (and is being) further disseminated. Single pieces of information on their own pose a privacy risk. The aggregation of the information, which is then disseminated, poses a greater and different privacy risk.

Continue Reading Alternate (Data) Universe

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In the late 1500s, privateer and explorer Martin Frobisher embarked upon a journey that would net him fame—Frobisher Bay is named for him—but not much fortune. His travels took him to what is now Canada, where he claimed Baffin Island for the Crown because of the vast amounts of gold he found there. He was so convinced he had found great riches that he continued to make multiple trips with increasingly more ships to mine and send the ore home for safekeeping. Queen Elizabeth I even ordered quadruple locks in the Tower of London to guard the trove.

Unfortunately for all, however, what Frobisher had so diligently worked to procure, transport, and store was nothing but iron pyrite—fool’s gold. Once it was discovered that his cache was not real gold, an Italian alchemist was engaged to work his magic and transform the worthless rocks into the gold everyone desired. Needless to say, he was unsuccessful.

I was reminded of this story while attending the Information Governance Conference recently in Connecticut.
Continue Reading All that glitters…is it gold?

stockmarket-numbersiStock_000038631854_LargeLast Friday, when Amazon’s market cap pushed past Walmart’s, the headlines almost wrote themselves – “Internet Retailer Amazon Topples Traditional Retailer Walmart,” or the like. The lead angle? Amazon’s information-based business model had surpassed Walmart’s old-school, bricks and mortar business concept. Just one problem – totally wrong lead, with the totally wrong point.
Continue Reading We’re ALL in the information business

elephantI met this grumpy fellow in Sabi Sands, South Africa, and took this picture with my phone (nope, no zoom… wish he’d been further away). The experience reminded me of the fable about the Blind Men and the Elephant, a classic allegory for how we often do not perceive the big picture, but instead only the part we directly encounter. This fable has become a useful metaphor for Information Governance. In so many organizations, individual departments and functions have their own, limited perspectives on information, seeing only the issues and objectives with which they are directly familiar. Limited perspective yields limited perception – not a good thing for identifying, understanding, and controlling organizational risk. Information Governance is the means through which organizations can bridge across such silos and perceive the big picture of information compliance, risk, and value.

Actually, I prefer a different version, restyled as the Blind Elephants and the Man.
Continue Reading Information governance in perspective