When GE’s Paul Rogers spoke at the first Internet of Things privacy conference held by TRUSTe, he came at the subject from what is the dominant “gee whiz” perspective of just how efficient and effective big data collection can be for companies, customers and consumers. There is no doubt that a more efficient electrical grid or airline maintenance in advance of a problem are valuable outcomes. But data is nothing if not dynamic; it grows and as it does it begins to suggest new possibilities. These secondary uses of even the most routine data can quickly cross the line from beneficial to creepy.
By now most U.S. television viewers have seen the ads for Progressive Insurance’s “snapshot,” a device plugged into automobiles that can help analyze behavior behind the wheel. The pitch is quite specific: we’ll help you lower rates, the information won’t be used to increase them. They won’t have to because as Progressive drivers not using the device see their costs increase to cover the losses of the worst drivers, they’ll either get with the program or move to another carrier. More»