What's Different About Differential Privacy?

Privacy

What's Different About Differential Privacy?

  • June 20, 2016 - By Todd Ruback

Apple, with its recent announcement that it will adopt differential privacy in future iOS releases, has once again shown why it is a leader in innovation.

But what exactly is differential privacy and what’s so different about it? Let me break it down for you. It’s an approach to privacy, already used by some of its competitors, that will allow Apple to analyze how large groups of customers use its products without looking at the specific person. While technological details haven’t been released, the ability to spot user patterns will allow Apple, a privacy principled company, to improve its products on a data-driven basis while still treating privacy with the respect it deserves. Make no mistake, however, Apple’s investment in differential privacy will be difficult to get right and will require vigilance in consumer transparency, a huge technological investment and a Big Data approach to product analysis and improvement, but its adoption signals that innovation and privacy are not mutually exclusive concepts. Well done, Apple.

In other important privacy news, the influential Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia - in a 2-1 split decision-validated the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules that aim to establish a level Internet playing field by requiring Internet Service Providers to treat all content coming across their networks equally, without blocking or impacting the speed of content delivery. While I’m sure this important issue is far from over, this ruling signals a victory for consumers and entrepreneurs alike, who require unfettered access to all of the Internet.

In digital advertising news, if the rise of ad blocking weren’t headache enough, the growth of online ad fraud could result in up to $50 billion in losses by 2025 - a staggering amount by anyone’s estimate - and a clarion call for the industry to address its existential threats on a broader basis. On a more upbeat note, Marketo, known as a leader in cloud-based marketing software, was sold to Vista Equity Partners for an astounding $1.79 Billion.

In Ghostery news, Larry Furr, our Vice President of Product, was quoted in this informative piece in the Irish Times discussing online behavioral tracking. Also, you can read here about our important patent granted for our widely used notice and consent products, quite an achievement.

Finally, if you would like to receive the Dispatch via email every week, please sign up here and please follow me on Twitter at@CPORuback, where you can get even more insight and information on privacy and security topics.

  • Privacy
    Preparing for the Post-Internet Age

    Preparing for the Post-Internet Age

    Last week, as the U.S. prepared for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit, ostensibly to focus upon cyber-espionage, among other things, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management disclosed that hackers who had previously stolen privacy centric information from the agency also stole fingerprint data on up to 5.6 million federal employees.

    While present use of biometric data is limited, some fear greater risk to the affected individuals as biometric information, such as fingerprints, become more commonly used as an access point as we move into the Post-Internet Age of connected sensors. 

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