The likely demise of Roe v. Wade is putting a new spotlight on privacy rights and personal data. But even as some big tech companies are beginning to try to limit how much data their existing products collect, the industry keeps rolling out new waves of devices and services that scoop up even more personal info.
Why it matters: Any trove of data will sooner or later end up at the other end of a request, or order, to be shared with law enforcement. The newest generation of gear, including autonomous vehicles and always-on cameras, could provide the state with a persistent and omnipresent method of surveillance.
The big picture: “Data minimization” is an ethical guideline, encoded in the EU’s GDPR privacy framework and other regulations, urging organizations to collect only the data they actually need and to keep it only as long as they need it.
- Google has taken a number of steps in this direction, including processing more data on devices rather than in the cloud and allowing users to set information to be deleted automatically.
- Apple has made data privacy a core principle, encrypting messaging data and limiting access to some other types of data so that only the user with the device can access it.
Be smart: Broader shifts in computing threaten to overshadow those efforts with new classes of products that depend on massive collection of data.
- One big trend is building devices around sensors and cameras that are always recording, such as doorbell cameras and autonomous vehicles.
- The machine learning algorithms that underlie everything from search engines to speech recognition only work when trained on mountains of data, creating another incentive for companies to build info stockpiles.
- “Not only will more data be co