Big Data’s Victory Over Anonymity

A writer laments the advances made by data collection in cities—once a location where people could maintain or seek anonymity.

“Cities are our paradises of anonymity, a place for both self-erasure and self-reinvention. But soon, cities may fall first in the disappearance, or at least a radical remaking, of privacy,” writes Quentin Hardy to introduce an editorial about the dangers of “Big Data.”

The article goes on to examine several examples of occasions when public data collection crosses into the territory of personal information collection, including technology that scans license plates on the way in an out of parking lots, another that tracks the movement of individuals through shopping malls, and the information that has been gleaned from bike rentals in London (or, for that matter, New York City).

“What we have at this moment is an exceptional awareness of where we are going: It is a little bit as if, circa 1880, we’d been able to say ‘soon we’ll banish night, because our cities will have electric light.’ The only real loss would not be thinking through the implications.”

Full Story: How Urban Anonymity Disappears When All Data Is Tracked

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