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Facebook Releases Broad Research Guidelines

Facebook notified its users of changes that it was making to its research activities. This is a welcome development given the concern that arose recently around user testing and online research. Earlier this year, many users were surprised and angry regarding allegations that Facebook had experimented on users to see if emotions were “contagious” on the site. Similar concerns were raised last year about another study of “self-censorship” on Facebook.

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The Problem with Uber’s Hidden Customer Rating System

Uber has been hailed as one of the success stories in “disruptive innovation” — providing customers with the ability to order cabs from their phones without having to hail a taxi. This weekend, a little-known Uber internal practice — allowing Uber drivers to rate passengers — came to light, upsetting consumers and highlighting the need for transparency when it comes to what companies do with data.

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iOS 8 Empowers Consumers to Limit Retail Tracking

Last week, Apple revealed iOS 8, the newest version of the operating system that runs on its mobile devices. From a privacy perspective, there were some welcome new features, including the inclusion of randomized MAC addresses. Randomized what, you may be asking? Basically, it means that consumers will be able to avoid persistent, pervasive tracking of their devices in stores and businesses.

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FTC Data Broker Report Highlights Need for Oversight

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a long-awaited report on the data broker industry. The report provides a great deal of insight into an opaque group of companies that create massive databases about individual consumers and then sell access to their data. We hope that Congress takes up the FTC’s calls for legislation to provide more oversight over data brokers and empower users to more effectively control their data.

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Big Data Report Shows Privacy Matters

After a ninety day review, the White House review group released its report on the challenges and opportunities of big data, and how it may affect individual privacy. There have been a lot of promises made about how big data will improve our lives, and there are absolutely some uses of big data that will have positive social effects. But big data raises very real privacy concerns, and we’re pleased that the White House has raised public awareness of these issues through its review process.

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