- How to make Bump Charts in R.
Popular gay dating app Grindr has been sharing users’ HIV statuses with third parties without informing users, BuzzFeed reported Monday.
Researchers at Norwegian nonprofit SINTEF found that the popular hookup app had shared sensitive personal information, including users’ HIV status, GPS data, and the last time they were tested for the virus, with multiple third-party companies. The researchers worry the data could be used to identify individual users and their statuses.
Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones.
Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it’s more like “big brother,” a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help.
For other countries, the technology could provide a model for how to track their residents. And for India’s top court, the ID system presents unique legal issues that will define what the constitutional right to privacy means in the digital age.
Just a few days before the previous article saw the light, this opinion piece also hit the pages of the New York Times: India Loves Data but Fails to Protect It.
[...] alarming gaps in India’s information security infrastructure, government departments and the Unique Identification Authority of India — the federal agency running the Aadhaar project — have exposed the private data of several million Indians on numerous occasions over the last two years.
IN THE wake of the scandal over the unauthorised use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, a campaign consultant, some Americans are looking enviously at the European Union, whose privacy laws are the global gold standard. Rights over personal data are enshrined in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. European citizens have the right to have their data processed fairly, to know what data an organisation holds about them and what it is doing with those data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law strengthening data protection across the EU, goes into force at the end of May (see article). Yet in practice, when European citizens try to exercise such rights, they tend to end up mired in bureaucracy.
WALK UP A set of steep stairs next to a vegan Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, and you will see the future of work, or at least one version of it. This is the local office of Humanyze, a firm that provides “people analytics”. It counts several Fortune 500 companies among its clients (though it will not say who they are). Its employees mill around an office full of sunlight and computers, as well as beacons that track their location and interactions. Everyone is wearing an ID badge the size of a credit card and the depth of a book of matches. It contains a microphone that picks up whether they are talking to one another; Bluetooth and infrared sensors to monitor where they are; and an accelerometer to record when they move.
“Every aspect of business is becoming more data-driven. There’s no reason the people side of business shouldn’t be the same,” says Ben Waber, Humanyze’s boss. The company’s staff are treated much the same way as its clients. Data from their employees’ badges are integrated with information from their e-mail and calendars to form a full picture of how they spend their time at work. Clients get to see only team-level statistics, but Humanyze’s employees can look at their own data, which include metrics such as time spent with people of the same sex, activity levels and the ratio of time spent speaking versus listening.
In what it calls an attempt to promote “trustworthiness” in its economy and society, China is experimenting with a social credit system that mixes familiar Western-style credit scores with more expansive — and intrusive — measures. It includes everything from rankings calculated by online payment providers to scores doled out by neighborhoods or companies. High-flyers receive perks such as discounts on heating bills and favorable bank loans, while bad debtors cannot buy high-speed train or plane tickets.
By 2020, the government has promised to roll out a national social credit system. According to the system’s founding document, released by the State Council in 2014, the scheme should “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” But at a time when the Chinese Communist Party is aggressively advancing its presence across town hall offices and company boardrooms, this move has sparked fears that it is another step in the tightening of China’s already scant freedoms.
- Civio, a Spanish NGO, has been building some amazing visualization tools over the years. This is this year's national budget.
Data Links is a periodic blog post published on Sundays (specific time may vary) which contains interesting links about data science, machine learning and related topics. You can subscribe to it using the general blog RSS feed or this one, which only contains these articles, if you are not interested in other things I might publish.
Have you read an article you liked and would you like to suggest it for the next issue? Just contact me!