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Cyber Privacy

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Cyber Privacy

Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care


15 min read
7 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

When it comes to your data, you may be paranoid, but you’re probably not paranoid enough.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


Every time you type a search phrase into Google, click like on a friend’s post on Facebook or scroll through Instagram, you create a data trail. Big Tech companies harvest your online travels, analyze them and sell the information to advertisers. In this intriguing study, former National Security Agency (NSA) official April Falcon Doss walks readers through the practical and legal ramifications of the data revolution. She delves into Silicon Valley’s data machine, and describes how government agencies are – and aren’t – exploiting data for law enforcement. While Doss takes pains not to be an alarmist, her wide-ranging report should alarm you – profoundly.


Leveraging big data, large companies amass unprecedented knowledge about individual internet users.

As consumers, investors, communicators and voters, people are spawning personal data online at an accelerating pace. Tech companies compile this information – places you visited, purchases you made, search phrases you typed – into salable data sets. When the companies that collect and own your web usage trail aggregate and analyze multiple data points, they accumulate granular information about your personal preferences – and everyone else’s, too.

When plugged into sophisticated analytical tools, this data yields remarkably detailed predictions about individual behavior. The supermarket industry offers a case study in the embrace of big data. For decades, bargain hunters clipped coupons for discounts, and shoppers redeemed them anonymously. Store marketers knew generally if a promotion was popular, but they couldn’t track precisely who presented coupons. Now, consumers get similar deals through store loyalty programs and, unknowingly, freely give the store detailed, trackable information about what they buy and when they buy it.

Huge leaps ...

About the Author

April Falcon Doss is former senior minority counsel for the Russia investigation in the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She currently serves as Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Tech Law & Policy. 

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