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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Big Dating: Bringing real data to the dating game.

June 1, 2015 Leave a comment

The online dating industry has grown from strength to strength and is estimated to be valued in excess of £2Billion, globally. However, the future growth may hinge on how data and new technologies can be leveraged to improve user experience and matching outcomes. Some key questions: Does having more data about potential partners really make any difference in finding the right match? What are key emerging trends that will affect the evolution of online dating?

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There are literally thousands of online dating sites worldwide, including over 1400 sites in the UK alone where online dating accounts for 25% of all new relationships. As might be expected, there are many types of players and business models in the industry, including online behemoths such as eHarmony or Match.com; mobile players like Tinder or Hinge; and increasingly niche specialists that match users based on specific demographic factors e.g. age / income / ethnicity / religion / location / sexuality etc.

Regardless of player size, business model or target user groups, a quick web trawl reveals some salient observations about the current and future state of online dating, as follows:

  • Mobile dating on the rise – A key trend is the increasing use of mobile Apps for online dating – so the major players are refocusing efforts to improve the multi-channel experience for their users.
  • A question of trust – Online dating services typically require user data for matching potential partners, but this can be greatly impaired by inaccurate data. Users often exaggerate personal attributes, or lie outright, in order to attract potential partners. Providers seek additional data (e.g. from retail, social media, entertainment and online sources) to augment data accuracy. However, there are privacy implications here that will need addressing.
  • User behaviours – Some provider prefer to base matches on actual user behaviours. The idea being that people often say one thing then do the opposite, and this is not unusual with online dating where user reactions to proposed matches can often reveal their true preferences regardless of what is stated on their profiles.
  • Matching algorithms are far from perfect – In fact, some view matching algorithms as just “smoke and mirrors”, and that dating sites succeed simply by providing a larger pool of potential partners. Furthermore, human matching is a bi-directional proposition because, unlike Amazon recommends, your supposedly perfect match may not be all that into you.
  • The eternal shop window – General attitude to online dating has become more positive, and the number of people using dating apps is growing faster than all other apps combined. However, these also foster the notion that online dating encourages, or at least facilitates, perpetual window shopping for potential matches, even for those people in committed relationships.

It is clear from the above that although data and technology will continue to be crucial in the evolution of online dating, the continued success and growth of the industry will depend very much on how well it can handle complex human behaviours, motivations and inconsistencies.

Matching algorithms aside, there’s still significant opportunity and scope for complex human behaviour modelling, and improved dynamic/predictive analytics, to cater for users’ changing preferences, circumstances and motivations. These must all be in place in order for the claims and predictions of everlasting happiness via online dating can be tested or verified. Perhaps, if Romeo and Juliet had access to such computer enabled insight theirs may not have been such a tragic love story!

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Big Data, Privacy and Intellectual Property

September 29, 2013 2 comments

Big Data, cloud, social and mobility make up Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, aka super disruptors of the digital age. In a previous related post, I discussed how such forces impact the concept of intellectual property, and in this post I’ll focus on two major issues that impact and influence big data.

Big Data, Privacy, IP

Big Data, Privacy, IP

Although a lot has been written about big data and the challenge / opportunity it presents to enterprises and individuals, the sparks really start to fly whenever commercial exploitation of digital information and content (incl. big data), enters the realms of personal privacy and IP rights (IPR).

Big Data

According to a recent Forrester report , your typical firm has on average 125TB of data but only actually utilise 12% of it. This shocking statistic brings home a key attribute and challenge of big data, namely the sheer volume, velocity and variety of data that resides and travels across multiple channels / platforms within and between organisations. As a result, many organisations have turned to ever more advanced analytics and business intelligence solution (including big data and social media) to extract value from the sea of information.

Personal Privacy

Given such powerful tools, and the vast amount of replicated information across various sources, it is relatively easy to get a picture of any individual’s situation, strengths and limitations. For many organisations, such data could become “toxic” if and when they suffer any loss of control. However, personal privacy is subjective at best, and there are differing world views on whether it should be considered a constitutional or fundamental human right.

Furthermore, the explosion in speed / type / channel of interaction may have brought about a certain degree, (perhaps even an expectation or acceptance), of reduced privacy. However, although some users may be happy to share personal data in exchange for financial gain, according to a recent SSRN paper, data protection and privacy entrepreneurship may have their place, but “people should not have to pay to protect their privacy or receive coupons as compensation”, especially as this might further disadvantage the poor.

Intellectual Property

In addition to the above issues, organisations also have to deal with the drama of IP rights and how they apply to the masses of unstructured data and content. In other words, every last piece of the aforementioned 125TB of big data held within your average organisation will have some associated IPR which must be taken into consideration when collecting, storing, processing or sharing that information. According to some legal experts, companies need to think through certain fundamental legal aspects of IPR, e.g. “who owns the input data companies are using in their analysis, and who owns the output?”

If you consider all the information / content, (including employee ‘personal’ content), sloshing around in every organisation, then you might begin to perceive the scale of the problem. There may be a lucrative opportunity for information mining and analysis algorithms aimed at the computer audit and forensic investigations market.

The way forward

Below are 3 things that organisations should bear in mind when dealing with the issues and problems posed by big data, privacy and IP:

  1. Information is the lifeblood of business  – implement the right policies for big data governance. The right information, at the right time, for the right user, is the holy grail for business, and it demands capabilities in Data Science and increasingly Data Art  . 
  1. Soon it may not really matter who owns your data – Personal information is becoming another currency with which the customer can obtain value. There is a growing push to focus big data governance / controls on data usage rather than data collection. 
  1. It’s not the tool, but how you use it – technology is not really that much a differentiator, rather it is the architecture and infrastructure approach that make all the difference – e.g. Forrester’s report recommended the “Hub and Spoke” model for decentralised big data capability3

In conclusion, although it may appear that the heady combination of big data, privacy and IP could be lethal for any organisation,  we mustn’t ignore real opportunities to reap the benefits of big data insight, but first the organisation must put its house in order by adopting the right policies and principles for big data governance.

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Note: The above post is adapted from my article of the same title, which was published in the September edition of ITNow magazine,  by the BCS Chartered Institute for IT.

References:

  1. Gartner – Information and the Nexus of Forces: Delivering and Analyzing Data (26, June 2012) – Analyst: Yvonne Genovese
  2. BCS TWENTY:13 ENHANCE YOUR IT STRATEGY – Intellectual property in the era of big and open data (01-03-2013) – Jude Umeh FBCS CITP
  3. Forrester – Deliver On Big Data Potential With A Hub-And-Spoke Architecture (12, June 2013) – Analyst: Brian Hopkins
  4. SSRN – Buying and Selling Privacy: Big Data’s Different Burdens and Benefits (30-June-2013) – by Joseph Jerome (Future of Privacy Forum) – Ref: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2294996
  5. Out-law.com – Big data: privacy concerns stealing the headlines but IP issues of equal importance to businesses – Ref: http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/march/big-data-privacy-concerns-stealing-the-headlines-but-ip-issues-of-equal-importance-to-businesses-says-expert/
  6. BCS Edspace Blog – Big data: manage the chaos, reap the benefits – (17-May-2013) Marc Vael (International VP of ISACA) Ref: http://www.bcs.org/content/conBlogPost/2196
  7. Capping IT Off – Forget Data Science, Data Art is Next! – Simon Gratton Ref: http://www.capgemini.com/blog/capping-it-off/2013/07/forget-data-science-data-art-is-next

Innovating and Enabling Digital Futures

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Certain trends and observations in the use and growth of content and communication technologies make it clear that the future of digital enterprise will depend heavily on key enablers such as Mobile Infrastructure. As ever, technology is probably the least of a set of key challenges facing those that would capitalize on such clear foresight, and this was the topic of my webcast at a BrightTalk Summit earlier this week.

Mobile Infrastructure: Innovating and Enabling Digital Futures

Mobile Infrastructure: Innovating and Enabling Digital Futures

First of all, my thanks to the kind people at BrightTalk for inviting me to share some thoughts and opinions at their Mobile Infrastructure Summit (click here to view the full webcast), and despite running out of time near the end, the audience feedback was most generous. To summarise briefly, some key points of discussion included:

  • Social, technology & business trends (with particular relevance to mobile)
  • Demand, usage, fulfillment and monetisation scenarios
  • Key issues around privacy, security, and health & safety
  • Opportunities with business models, Cloud and next generation mobile capabilities
  • An overview of 5 key stakeholders, business model innovation and our approach to innovation

The one message to take away from this, in my opinion, is the clear need and responsibility of any digital / mobile enabled enterprise to engage in constant innovation and adaptation of its business model, process and customer engagement approach. The current business environment has become far too dynamic and fluid for any rigid or hierarchical approach to remain unchallenged for any length of time.

Other events and similar discussions:

Interestingly, some of the above points were either echoed, or expanded on, by speakers at other relevant events I attended this month, notably:

  1. Google Apps Seminar – This event, hosted at Google’s office near Buckingham Palace, addressed four key trends (i.e. innovation, collaboration, social and mobility) and provided insight into what it takes to migrate from hosted services to Cloud based enterprise applications services, including real life examples from companies such as Jaguar Landrover and Ladbrokes.
  1. Mobile Privacy – Another excellent Mashup Event which dealt with various privacy issues thrown up by mobile services, as well as the implication of ‘giving a user control over their data’. This session boasted a good cross section of industry players, in addition to a pretty knowledgeable panel, which made for some intelligent exchange of views on such things as the meaning (or meaninglessness) of Privacy in a mobile and global context.
  1. CW5000 Club – This was a networking event for CIO and IT leaders to discuss the Web’s Next Generation, and featured speakers from Betfair, BBC Worldwide, Net-A-Porter and Interactive Media in Retail Group. Key high-light for me was that discussions consistently returned to the theme of customer centricity. Progress, IMHO!

Citius, Altius, Fortius and the Intellectual Property Roller-coaster

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Next year’s Olympic Games mean that both the City of London and global coverage of the events will be awash with logos, slogans, brands and other sponsorship paraphernalia come summer 2012. As the competing athletes get busy completing their training, so too have a particular group of learned athletes, otherwise known as IP lawyers, kept busy by flexing their legal muscles in preparation for an epic battle. Whoever wins in the end must indeed go faster, higher and stronger in that blood sport known as IP litigation.  

I was kindly invited to a seminar on brands and Intellectual Property (IP) at Wedlake Bell, a London Law firm, which helped to bring into sharp focus the current state of the IP landscape, (i.e.: Copyright, Trademark, Designs and Patents), and their legislation or regulation in the UK and Europe. The half day seminar touched on several interesting and notable IP related developments, regulation or litigation outcomes including:

  • Freedom of Expression vs. Privacy – Discussed the tension between these two strange bedfellows, as well as highlighting the bright  line boundary of commercial or state secret infringement versus the blurred line of private information made public (i.e. intrusion of privacy). Not quite the same thing it seems!
  • Copyright Issues – Looked at the challenges facing copyright law and its modern use and interpretation such as the vexed question of just what constitutes a “substantial part” in copyright infringement. Oh, and by the way, newspaper headlines may be copyright too!
  • Social Media and the Law – this final session showed how, despite evidently wide-held belief to the contrary, the law can, and does, apply to social media users. Seven types of social media usage, and some resulting litigation, were used to illustrate how the law can impact unwary users of social media, e.g.: insults, uploading, marketing, employees, litigating, gossip and jokes. Also the memorable analogy of just how social media users are very like London cyclists, (i.e. an explosion in great numbers of modish, largely anonymous individuals who may assume the law does not apply to them), helped to bring the point home.

In conclusion, this seminar provided an excellent update on the state of play with IP and brands; litigation and legislation; as well as historical challenges and emerging trends and usage scenarios. It is the sort of useful event, and time well spent, which I would recommend to any person or organization with even the least exposure to IP, digital social media and the laws and regulations that govern their use. With that in mind, perhaps the toughest contests of the London2012 games may well be fought in courtrooms across the land. IP athletes to your starting positions.

The Myth of Privacy 2.0

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Recent headlines around privacy, super injunctions and scandals involving celebrities, sports stars and bankers make it seem like something new and dangerous has appeared out of the ether, when in fact it is nothing other than the usual, albeit grossly exaggerated, effect of disruptive technologies and their use /  abuse, laced with a titillating hint of salacious gossip fodder. The rest is history, or not.

 

Internet technologies and social media applications like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have made it child’s play for anyone to create instantaneous headline / publicity, or what I call a “flash buzz”, over almost any topic, event or person. There is no gainsaying the fact that social media has established itself as a bonafide media channel through which people can get the fastest and most direct access to world events, and to each other. But this is only just the beginning, if you consider the mountains of so called big data being fed each and every second by these, and other sources of information.

Once upon a time news information trickled down through well established but rather narrow media channels (i.e. news print, Radio and TV), but that trickle has become a fast moving stream, full of all any kind of debris (i.e. meaningless chatter) and valuable nuggets of information about you, your friends (or followers, fans, contacts etc.) and any number of other people. When combined with other Internet applications, such as the World Wide Web and a good search engine, no topic is out of reach for an intrepid seeker. So where does this leave us? What will happen to the existing media / information channels; will they be swallowed up by the deluge of information and get lost in the remarkably high noise-to-signal ratio? Will established media channels, businesses and industry go the way of the music industry?

I think not, because thankfully, there is still something to be said for the perceived authority of the printed word, and many people will still probably take the words on a printed sheet over words on a screen. Also, despite the wow factor of a new information source / channel offered by social media applications, it is still just that; only another source or channel for information. They are not mutually exclusive, and in fact people even use multiple information channels simultaneously. But what has this got to do with privacy?

Why, everything. The increasing trend for easily accessible data, information and knowledge streams means that sooner or later, and to varying degrees of completeness and accuracy, your so called private information will become available online, if it is not already out there. But what does this mean for ordinary individuals that go about minding their own business? Not much, I imagine, but for those with something to hide, or protect (in good cause or not), this can be a very real problem as the recent controversy over super injunctions in the UK will attest. Furthermore, for enterprises that make it a key activity to interact and deal directly with customers, this can be a gold mine (or just a plain minefield) to be navigated and exploited with extreme care as significant legal battles will likely continue to be fought over this particular topic.

In any case, one thing that seemingly escapes attention in the increasingly episodic furore over privacy is that the upcoming generation of Internet savvy digital natives may not see privacy in the same light our current generation of digital immigrants do. If social media was the norm at the time of your birth, or before, then it may be fair to ask just what the fuss is all about.

Publishing, Intellectual Property and Private Equity: A Tale of Three Events

March 3, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s not often one gets an opportunity to attend three compelling events in one evening, but as luck would have it, the stars were aligned and I managed to do just that in a mad scramble from one venue to the next. Such are the benefits of living and working in a great city like London, but less so were the thorny issues under debate at each of the three events.

It took a minute to digest and process various messages from these events, but as promised / tweeted, below are three key points, take-away or opinions:

1. Publishers must embrace multi-platform models as business-as-usual (Publishing Expo 2011)

It was standing room only at the Multi-Publishing & Digital Strategies Theatre in a packed final session on “the future of multi-platform publishing”. According to one of the speakers, “the bleeding edge of multi-publishing model is one third print, one third digital, and one third live events.”

Standing Room Only

Publishing Expo 2011: Future of Multi-Publishing

My Comment – Never mind multi-platform, it sounds more like a multi-model approach will be necessary for the entire creative industry, in my opinion.


2. But how do you value Intellectual Property? (IP For Innovation And Growth)

This has to be one of the thorniest questions for IP, because consistent and intelligent valuation of IP is at best confusing, or non-existent. IP is really just an economic mechanism, so a fundamental attribute should be the ability to establish an agreed value for the property in question, but this presents a severe problem because current valuation are highly subjective and always dependent on the buyer or seller’s points-of-view. Throw in the ability to effortlessly copy and distribute works via digital technology, and you’ll get the somewhat muddy picture.

IP Panel at the RSA

The RSA: IP For Innovation and Growth

My Comment – There is a clear opportunity here to create a dynamic and transparent IP valuation model or approach, which can produce the right valuation for IP, based on the buyer / seller relationship and context


3. And does a cash economy make IP any less relevant? (Private Equity Africa)

Apparently, it’s all about cash in Africa which leads me to wonder if and how global IP will work in a cash economy. This event does not immediately appear to have much in common with the others on IP or the creative industry, and even one of the speakers afterwards, said he considered Intellectual Property in Africa to be, and I quote, “nothing more than intellectual masturbation”. However, when you think of the thriving industry and market for music and filmed entertainment (e.g. Nigeria’s Nollywood), it is easy to see how IP can provide an important boost to developing economies. Therefore, even if there is little point in enforcing IP Rights locally, all developing economies must be interested and involved in any discussion relating to global IP rights and digital distribution / piracy.

PE Africa

Private Equity Africa

My Comment – when it comes to content and IP, it is a level playing field as all jurisdictions and stakeholders struggle with the impact of digital technology

Overall, one clear trend I can see emerging from the above is that such tough questions / issues will need even tougher answers and resolutions to overcome. For example, they may well be pointing to the same underlying problem – i.e. a flawed and inflexible concept of economic value – but perhaps that is rightly the subject of another blog and blogger.

Creative Commons: Addressing the perils of re-using digital content.

February 27, 2011 2 comments

Do you still dream of owning an iPad? If so, you are one of millions of people salivating at the thought of using such a sexy device to create and consume all manner of digital content e.g. books, pictures, music and video. Indeed such devices promise exciting times for all digital content creators; and even entire industries, (e.g. news and magazine publishers), can hardly contain their excitement at the prospect of a device that just might single-handedly revive their ailing fortunes. But this is not another gushing product review, instead it is meant to highlight the challenges that this, and other such devices, will surely pose to the already embattled system of Intellectual Property or Copyright. Namely, how can you be sure that the content you create, re-use and consume on your device does not infringe another party’s copyright?

This is a burning question in the minds of many professional and non-professional creators and re-users of digital content, (e.g.: authors, bloggers, photographers, film-makers, illustrators, web-designers, as well as teachers and students); especially in light of new governmental instruments like the Digital Economy Act1. The right answer must provide, at the very least, a clear and simple method by which anyone can legally create, distribute, use and remix digital content without fear of inadvertent copyright infringement. This article examines one such method, which is increasingly being used by many creative people to get around this difficult issue, and it’s called the Creative Commons.

What Is The Creative Commons?

According to their website2, the Creative Commons (or CC) is a non-profit organisation devoted to increasing the amount of creative works that are free and legal to: share, use, re-purpose and remix by the general public (aka “The Commons”). The CC was established in 2001 by an eight strong group of experts in such relevant fields as cyber law, Intellectual Property (IP), computing and education. The first version of CC Licences were released in 2002, and since then over 130 million works have been licensed under this, and subsequent versions (it’s currently at version 3.0). Furthermore, CC licenses have now been ported to over 50 countries or jurisdictions internationally, with more coming onboard every year.

How Do CC Licenses Work?

The Creative Commons provides free, legal tools that enable content creators to grant: clear, simple and more liberal copyright-based permissions for the use of their works. It operates alongside existing copyright laws, but instead of the default copyright position of “all rights reserved”, CC allows content creators to specify a more flexible proposition with only “some rights reserved”. This is achieved via a multi-step gradient of pre-bundled permissions which bridge the gap between binary positions of copyright (i.e. all rights reserved) and the public domain (i.e. no rights reserved).

There are six commonly used types of CC licenses, which are shown, in order of increasing restrictiveness, as follows:

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons Licenses

Figure 1: Creative Commons. Source of CC License Symbol / Images3: http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/

All CC licenses are represented in three levels, which are easily accessible for: computers (i.e.  Machine-readable digital code, or metadata); lawyers (i.e. the “Legal Code”); and ordinary people (i.e. the Commons Deed).

What are the Limitations and Pitfalls of Using CC Licenses?

CC is by no means perfect for every situation, especially since it doesn’t cover every single type of rights and privileges related to content. For example, CC licenses do not affect the rights of content creators or consumers in areas like: Fair Use or Fair Dealing, Moral Rights and / or Privacy. The latter aspect of Privacy has been in the spotlight on a few occasions, most memorable of which involved a minor whose image was used in an advertising campaign without her knowledge or permission4, and which ultimately led to charges of violation of her privacy, (notwithstanding the fact that the photograph in question had been posted on Flickr.com under a CC-By-Attribution license!)

Furthermore, the global scope of CC and the Internet only adds to the complexity and geo-political implications of such allegations. For example, the minor and photographer in the above case were both based in the USA, but the ad campaign took place in far away Australia. In light of this and other similar cases, Maria Kessler5, President of the Picture Archive Council of America, advises caution in all uses of digital images, even those under CC license, due to the many subtleties / unintended consequences of digital image rights and their usage.

In Conclusion

The rise in digital content, fuelled by ubiquity and relative ease of digital content creation, remix and distribution emphasises the urgent need for a more flexible approach to usage rights and permissions under copyright. This need is fulfilled to a large degree by the Creative Commons system described above, in spite of the mind-numbing complexity and subtlety of copyright (i.e. the various rights / privileges / restrictions that are attributable to content and their authors). In summary, the key messages to take away include:

  1. CC is probably the best thing we currently have to enable the legal use / reuse of digital content that would otherwise be legally inaccessible to users under full copyright. This is because CC simplifies and facilitates content use / reuse / sharing for  the benefit of all (and not just for commercial stakeholders or content rights owners)
  2. The widespread popularity and adoption of CC clearly points the way to how we might evolve, or remix, the global copyright system into something that can better cope with the relentless relentless pace of change driving the digital economy during this crucial transition period in human cultural evolution
  3. Finally, as with most other things, CC is not a silver bullet. The subtleties of copyright versus individual rights are a minefield, even for the best of legal experts; therefore extreme caution is highly recommended when considering the use of CC licensed works in a commercial way.

Please Note: This article has been submitted and accepted for publication in a forthcoming edition of ITNow Magazine

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References:

  1. The Creative Commons website can be found at http://www.creativecommons.org and the UK version is at: http://www.creativecommons.org.uk. More information on other jurisdictions can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/international
  2. Digital Economy Act – More on the debate over this bill can be found on the BCS DRM blog, including comments, at: http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conBlogPost.1606
  3. Creative Commons Images: The CC license buttons and graphics remain the property and trademark of the Creative Commons. More information on their use and reuse can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/policies
  4. More information on this lawsuit against Virgin Mobile and the Creative Commons can be found at: http://creativecommons.org/weblog/entry/7680
  5. Conversation with Maria Kessler who is also Senior Vice President of Image Rights (http://www.imagerights.com), an Image monitoring services company.