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EDITOR’S LETTER


EDITORIAL


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Circulation January-June 2010: 16,478 Information Age is published by Vitesse Media Plc, Octavia House, 50 Banner Street, London EC1Y 8ST


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The need for smart privacy


martphones, smart meters, and smart RFID tags: these are just some of the devices contributing to the phenomenon known as ‘big data’. Not only will they accelerate the already overwhelming growth in data volumes, as this month’s cover feature explains, they will also necessitate a new style of real- time, non-relational analysis. But as the universe of information


S


prepares for another big bang, governments and societies are still wrestling with the innovations of the last decade. The European Union, for example, has


proposed the introduction of a ‘right to be forgotten’, giving individuals the power to demand that social networks and other organisations delete any data they hold about them. As our feature ‘Hard to escape’ (page


16) explains, there are all manner of questions about how this commendable intention might be put into practice. In many cases, the problem is akin to restraining a horse that has already bolted. There is an evident risk that, ten years down the line, regulators will be trying to inject privacy protection into smart systems and the data infrastructure that supports them retrospectively. That is not to say the European Union


is dragging its heels on this: it first recommended the application of data protection principles to RFID networks back in 2009, and in April 2011 it


published a framework for operators to assess the privacy impact of their systems. And nor are


technology providers ignoring the issue. Earlier this year, Harriet Pearson, chief privacy officer of IBM, which has hitched its wagon to the smart technology vision more than any other supplier, acknowledged the concerns. “Trust and confidence in the security and privacy of critical systems… is foundational to individuals’ continued engagement and reliance on such things as online commerce, e-health and Smart Grids,” she wrote. Nevertheless, protecting privacy –


Pete Swabey


a concept that can seem abstract and nebulous but that makes very real differences to people’s lives – while building highly complex systems is going to take more than simply acknowledging the concerns. Certainly, organisations that buy and use those systems should demand that privacy protection is engineered in from the very beginning. To attempt to do so once this particular horse has bolted may prove even trickier than implementing the right to be forgotten.


Pete Swabey Editor


“Information Age magazine is for all executives, regardless of job title, involved in the application of technology for strategic, competitive advantage and improved efficiency. Our editorial objective is to help our readers become more confident and successful in their use of technology, in their choice of suppliers, products and services, and in their management of people and partners.”


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