Thought Experiments

6322992684_d252f695ed_oIf you’re not one of the 37 million people whose data was hacked in the Ashley Madison breach, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Sort of.

The Ashley Madison story may be great for a few news cycles of schadenfreude, but it also illustrates the realities we face in the age of data ubiquity: as people, consumers, businesspeople, patients and citizens.

1. Intimate data about us is everywhere. Our purchases, location, sexuality, religion, health history, political party, whose house we went to last night, the stiletto heels or sleek watch or expensive bourbon we clicked on on a website–is out there, somewhere. In most cases this data is protected by layers of security, encryption, policy and regulation, but, as we’ve seen from Anthem to Target to Ashley Madison–it’s not always effective. Beyond data security, however, is the question of how this data is actually used by the businesses that collect it. Is…

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