Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
December, 11th 2014

SP Christina Peters

Christina Peters, Chief Privacy Officer, IBM

By Christina Peters

American adults are feeling increasingly less confident about their ability to control and ensure the privacy and security of their personal information, according to a recent study from Pew Research.

While people routinely share such information when they believe doing so will benefit them, consumers and citizens everywhere are concerned about the risks and often skeptical about the promised benefits of sharing their personal data. Information analysis has become an indispensable tool for businesses, governments and organizations of all kinds – in every industry around the world. Improvements that data analytics can bring in areas like transit, energy conservation and medical have made analytics too compelling for the private and public sector to ignore. 

Yet it’s evident that protecting personal privacy is a critical challenge on the path toward enabling information analysis that generates better outcomes and opportunities for businesses and other organizations.

My colleague, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist of Context Computing, Jeff Jonas, brings thought-provoking insights to the contentious debates on balancing privacy and analytics that pit the sides in a friend vs. foe manner. One of Jeff’s most telling examples is his work with the Pew Charitable Trusts to improve the quality of the US voter lists, which contain a large percentage of out-of-date addresses due to America’s highly-mobile population.

The system Jeff and Pew helped build – the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – allows states to share their voter lists and compare those records to other records, including driver’s licenses and death records.

In this system, it’s imperative to be able to confirm that a new address on one record – for instance, a driver’s record – relates to the same person with an old address on the voter record. To do that, the system requires states to share some highly-sensitive data elements to confirm the records relate to the same individuals, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and dates of birth and compare that data in a central database.

Needless to say, this approach could raise privacy concerns. Rather than abandoning the use of analytics, the team made anonymous sensitive identifiers to change them into a non-human readable, non-reversible format before any data transfer.

The ability to analyze the data and answer the important question – “Do these two records relate to the same individual?” – is maintained. The ability to discover personal identifiers about individuals, such as their social security numbers, is not.

Rarely is the debate louder or longer than in Europe where protecting privacy while promoting progress is a significantly contentious topic.

European regulators, legislators and policymakers have been working hard to reach a consensus on draft privacy regulation that has been under consideration for almost three years.

If the regulation is to both protect the privacy of Europeans as technology outstrips today’s expectations, it has to set standards that permit innovation – both in analytics, and in solutions to the privacy challenges the future will surely bring.

To help encourage a constructive conversation on why analytics are essential to business and government and to examine how innovations in data can be a driver of widespread positive change, IBM recently convened a meeting in Brussels with more than 100 representatives of the EU data policy community in Brussels. The meeting focused on a fresh perspective – finding practical solutions to how technologists and privacy experts can answer questions that Big Data and analytics raise for privacy.

The answer: one question at a time. By carefully considering the possible impacts on people at the outset, data architects and analysts can design ways to avoid or mitigate those impacts into their solution. Innovation in privacy must proceed hand in hand with innovation in analytics.

Embracing analytics that deliver on privacy is particularly essential if the EU and other governments and global businesses aim to foster prosperity, growth and security. They must find effective solutions to the privacy concerns of their citizens that don’t limit the capacity for breakthrough research and innovation. Indeed, the answers are not to be found in sweeping prohibitions, minutely detailed requirements or regulatory checkboxes.

Rather, they are found one at a time, in applying high standards to solving hard problems.

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July 3, 2016
1:03 am

I really loved your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand.

Posted by: imo messenger
June 30, 2016
4:17 am

I like this very much,very good nice post.

Posted by: العاب
January 6, 2016
6:07 am


Posted by: پارتیشن
October 27, 2015
7:50 am


Posted by: تست جوش
October 26, 2015
4:47 am

The security is high؟

Posted by: نمایندگی سایپا
October 25, 2015
5:18 am

This is very important in security

Posted by: بازسازی ساختمان
February 4, 2015
9:45 pm

One of the major businesses which are taking place these days is of wholesaler clothing and
yyou are going to come across business travelers who
are going to tell you that there iss great potential in wholesale business.
A few nurseries may just grow the adult plant, some may propagate pants, and some sell plants while others may jujst sell it for
the purpose of landscaping. Jewelry is pssibly the most universal item for beach shops as they can be displzyed just about anywhere, and
many customers love jewelry.

Posted by: obral baju murah
February 4, 2015
12:23 am

You just have to list the best selling product and later
find cosumers buy them online. Go over Sale – Hoo’s list of products and suppliers to find the most promising niche products.
Ask the fashion wholesaler where the clothes are made as this could affect
the prices yyou pay and it could also be a selling
point ffor your customers.

Posted by: mukena bali surabaya
February 3, 2015
7:54 pm

Some can charge you additional fees before the transaction bbut they should
be refunded once tthe transactions have been made.
Carrying branded handbags have become a style statement among millions off woken all around the world.

For example some logo’s have fades and complicated patterns which are impossiblle to embroider on such a small space.

Posted by: obral Baju murah
December 17, 2014
3:40 pm

This would be a great application for discovering identity theft, false identities, persons using one or more aliases, and groups of people all using the same alias.

Now that the “anonymizing” of the various forms of identity data, including driver licenses, SSN’s, residence and work addresses, phone numbers, rental applications, credit apps, job apps, real estate and property title data, medical, benefits, insurance, etc, has been done, government entities such as federal and state as well as businesses could combine their database information to perform a massive and comprehensive scan for identity theft and financial fraud.

Posted by: Philip Kaufman
December 17, 2014
11:44 am

I’m very excited by this post. Everywhere that technology evolves it is outstripping policy processes, existing legislation and regulations. As a student of technically mediated policy environments, I’m qualified to say that your statement “innovation in privacy must proceed hand in hand with innovation in analytics” is almost radical. I’m pleased to hear IBM promotes the importance of mitigating the outstripping! My goal as a business analyst is to find work at the emergent intersection of policy and technology. It’s great to see folks who are already there!

Posted by: Mela Brown
December 17, 2014
9:45 am

Christina, Well articulated! And Jeff’s work work in Entity Analytics is pioneering!

We are living in an increasingly flat and increasingly connected world. So a careful balance of data sharing and privacy is paramount.

I work with data management, including master data management (MDM) for medical records. Hence these topics are of great interest and relevance to me. Thanks for the blog.

Jeff, Great job! And your impression of Jim Carrey in the video is impeccable :-)

Posted by: Sankar Narayanan
December 16, 2014
10:33 pm

Excellent thoughts…

Please extend thanks to Jeff Jonas and Pew Charitable Trusts for creating Electronic Registration Information Center. This is certainly a good work in progress.

Hope to see this applied globally.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas !

Posted by: Deepak Trivedi
December 15, 2014
2:29 pm

Very timely and informative – thanks for sharing

Posted by: Teresa Hamid
December 15, 2014
2:20 pm

thanks. Very interesting presentation

Posted by: Leo
December 11, 2014
6:28 pm

For those interested in seeing a short video about this project, check this out:

Posted by: Jeff Jonas
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