This recent 60 Minutes segment on data brokers was unsettling to say the least. I knew that big data brokers were tapping our web use but I had no idea just how unregulated and extraordinarily intrusive this practice has become. I presumed it was just Google (or the NSA) but no, according to 60 Minutes, everything about us online and on our mobile devices is being assembled into giant digital dossiers. And then attached to us by name and address.
Not just Google, not just Facebook, but nearly every commercial website today makes its money by selling our personal habits to these data brokers. This nominally private information is assembled from hundreds of sources to create a personalized picture of who we are, from our buying habits, medical conditions, political leanings and more. Then it is bought and sold to marketers, employers, anyone who wants. The public is largely in the dark and he data collectors aim to keep it that way.
Into this morass rides Disconnect, a free new browser add-on developed by a former Google programmer. Disconnect promises to block the data miners at work on every website you visit. I just downloaded it onto my laptop and, just like I have long had blocking software, I plan to use it on all my device browsers. Watch the 60 Minute segment, and you will likely do the same.
I did a lot of things at times with people on Wall Street. A lot of guys are shady, and they did shady things with me, and I don’t trust them.
Self-described former boss of the Colombo crime family, Michael Franzese, who spent 10 years in prison after he was convicted on federal racketeering charges, on CNBC
The world’s top mathematics prize is won by a woman for the first time in its history. Called the “Nobel Prize in Mathematics,” the Fields Medal is awarded every four years by the International Mathematics Union to the world’s top mathematician under age 40. This year’s winner is an Iranian born professor at Stanford University.
I keep saying that the sexy job in the next 10 years will be statisticians. And I’m not kidding.
Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, in an article at the site Quartz that questions whether “statistical literacy” needs to be added to the increasing attention paid to mathematical competence in basic education.