Monthly Archives: January 2015

Two plus one

I was tempted by “Gene-Mapping Initiative Takes Aim at Disease,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2015 A3, dealing with the government’s proposal to gather and study a collection of genetic data on a bunch of its citizens.  Pay no attention to the article the other day about what you can learn from anonymized information.

I also looked closely at “Debate Heightens Over Measuring Health-Care Quality,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2015 A3, which discusses, briefly, possible metrics to measure the quality, versus the quantity, of medical care.  And metrics are a part of analytics.

But I decided to go with “Pom’s Ads Misled Consumers, Court Says,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2015 B3. The FTC pops a company for implying health benefits from drinking its pomegranate-flavored juice.  One documented trial establishing the health benefits would be enough. Commercial speech can’t be deceptive.

Are deceptive ad claims within the ambit of information governance?


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Analytics on steroids

Even Nameless Data Can Reveal Identity, Study Finds,” Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2015 A3. Even after data has been stripped of identifying information like names and numbers, it doesn’t take much to identify an individual and his or her buying pattern.

Taking anonymized credit card transactions, plus LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, allows researchers to find the name of individual buyers.

How do we protect ourselves from this?  Does the European approach to privacy, with the extensions to information, plus other information that allows you to identify a particular person, stand ass the only way?  Or go off the grid? As US businesses, how do we use this new capability?

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Wearing your heart on your sleeve

Are your emotions yours?

The Technology That Unmasks Your Hidden Emotions,” Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2015 B1.Computers that analyze your facial expressions to tell if you’re lying, or what disgusts you.

Is nothing private anymore?  Maybe not admissible in court, but could an prospective employer use it in a job interview?

Who owns this information?  Does the mere public display of your face constitute a license of your likeness or your emotions? What if it is collected during the course of your employer’s business?  Will your employer prohibit wearing a Guy Fawkes mask around the office to safeguard your thoughts?


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Access control

Marriott got slapped for $600,000 for preventing guests from using their own Wi-Fi connections, as opposed to paying for the right to use Marriott’s connection.

FCC Warns Hotels, Others Not to Block Personal Wi-Fi,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2015 B4.  Practice was ruled to be an “unlawful intentional interference with the public’s right to use the airwaves.”

If you restrict the channels by which information flows, you may have a problem, even if it isn’t your information.  Is your attempt to force people to pay you to use your channel part of your “information governance”? How does this apply (or not) to net neutrality? Or Google’s strategy to expand a phone service solely through Wi-Fi channels owned by others? Are the airwaves the ultimate public utility?  How do you regulate something that must be open to all?  What about signal blockers, that block all transmissions, in or out?  Same analysis?

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There were several options for today:

  1. “U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2015 A1. The Department of Justice has a database collecting information from license-plate readers.  What could they do with that information?
  2. “Ex-CIA Officer Convicted of Leaking Secrets,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2015 A4. A former CIA agent convicted of leaking secrets to a reporter.
  3. “A Big Step Away From Clutches of Cable TV,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2015 B1. Ways to reduce your overall cost of TV.
  4. “Fed Aims to Quicken Payment System,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2015 C2.  Expediting the US payments system.  We don’t think of money as information, but money bears many likenesses to information.

But no.  My class at Rice is discussing analytics, among other things, on Wednesday.  So this one caught my eye. “The Signs Before an Affair,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2015 D1.  Based on data from 8 million men on a website for people looking for extra-marital affairs, here are factors that might allow one to predict whether his or her spouse will be unfaithful:

  1. Gender – males worse than females (but what was the data they picked from?)
  2. Age – people approaching a milestone birthday, or between 35 and 50
  3. Opportunity – “environmental” risk
  4. History of faithlessness – two sides to this coin
  5. Relationship dissatisfaction – major risk factor
  6. Personality – certain personalities more prone to cheating

If you have a large collection of data, what would it show? What can you use it for?  Who would be interested in your findings?


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Who’s watching you?

We all know about NSA’s surveillance.  And we know Netflix and Amazon track stuff, and Google does what it does.  But do you give any thought to who is watching what you’re looking at on the ‘net for your employer?

“Hedge Funds Learn Secrets Not So Safe,” Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2015 C1.  Banks and brokerages do research reports and post them on Bloomberg’s site.  Bloomberg informs the banks/brokerages who’s accessing those reports – not just the firm whose accessing them, but the person.  So can the banks and brokerages know who at a hedge fund is looking to target a specific firm?

Well, at least the banks and brokerages aren’t selling that information to others.

If you’re the hedge fund, how do you protect yourself?  Does this affect your strategy?

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20-year old data

Did you know that the data underlying studies of investor behavior in the US is over twenty years old?

“What Investors Don’t Know,” Wall Street Journal, January 24-25, 2015 B8. Brokerages in the US haven’t shared the information they have for one of two reasons: to comply with privacy regulations or to protect their own proprietary data. Because this data hasn’t been collated and studied, there’s no recent analytics of investor behavior.  So what your professor’s teaching you about investor behavior is out of date or based on foreign data.

Couldn’t this data be anonymized and analyzed? Don’t we do that with medical data? Isn’t the trending data important outside the individual brokerage? Is this information really proprietary to the brokerage?  Who really owns the data?  Why can’t this be accessed?  Who’s trying to hide what?

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Access and sharing

A lot of information-related stories are about breaches of security or law or policy.  Some are about creation, or use or disposal.  Here’s one on access and sharing and analytics.

Rosetta Captures Wealth of Data on Comet,” Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2015 A11.  Spacecraft circling a comet travelling at 1 million kilometers a day send back data, surprising scientists.  It has water, but not the same as our water.  And the comet would float on our water.  Seven studies published in the journal Science.

What information do we not have yet, and how will we get it?  And how will we analyze its meaning?  And how will we share and use it?

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Razors or razor blades

Microsoft has made a fortune licensing its Windows software.  Why would they change their model?  Is there more money in selling the adds on?

Microsoft Opens a Window Into a New Era,” Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2015 B1. Microsoft decides to give away Windows 10 to some users, in the hope the other add-ons it sells (e.g., Office365, Azure) will make up for the lost revenue.

Sort of like Gillette giving away razors that only took Gillette blades.

Are you in the licensing-of-software business or are you in the sale-of apps business?  I guess they chose, sacrificing $500 million in short-term revenue.

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Here’s my upward feedback

Memo App Lets Workers Vent Anonymously About the Boss,” Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2015 B7. Interesting entrant into the social/unsocial media arena, allowing people to post messages about their company, memos, links, etc., on either a site open to the public or restricted to employees from the same company.  Anonymously.

Brings anonymity to the water cooler discussion.  But will having this app on your phone be a career-limiting move?  How do you prevent employees from posting confidential company information on a public or private site?  Is free speech really free? What does your social media policy say about this?

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Filed under Controls, Internal controls, Policy, Protect information assets, Security