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Data for the People: Can the Post-Privacy Economy Work for You?

February 09, 2017

data book

Are we in a post-privacy economy where data collection is as pervasive as the air we breathe? If so, is there any way to make that reality an asset, rather than a liability?

These are the provocative questions discussed by author, data scientist, and professor Andreas Weigend, and IDE Director, Erik Brynjolfsson, at a recent IDE seminar.

Weigend’s new book, Data for the People, challenges current views about the risk and rewards of the data we create. Rather than perpetuating a romanticized view of privacy, Weigend demands increasing transparency and agency, and shows readers how to claim the gains from their data. 

In 1999, when Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems’ CEO, famously declared that we had “zero privacy…just get over it,” it was a jolt to most sensibilities. Nearly two decades later, Weigend, the former chief scientist of Amazon, says not only does the public acknowledge this fact, they don’t choose to give up their Smartphones, Facebook, or Google abilities to protect their privacy.

Weigend argues that in this environment, individuals need to become “data literate” and demand rights to their data, in order to be empowered. Drawing on his work with firms in retail, travel, finance, and healthcare, he proposes a set of data rights that he says will enable individuals to make better decisions about how our daily data are refined, bartered, and sold.

Listen to the full conversation and learn more about how attitudes differ in the U.S. and Europe; when and how to protect private data, and when too much data can be a dangerous thing.