Customer Reviews: Privacy and Big Data
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on January 2, 2012
This book was purchased as a required text for a course on privacy. I was appalled at the poor writing and the heavy reliance on wikipedia links. The content would have been more informative if presented as an outline. I say this because the content would have been more clear and more easily understood if not interrupted by the poor quality prose. In addition to numerous grammatical errors, the writing is disrupted by overly frequent inline website citations which would have been better included as footnotes.

Readers should also be aware that the tone is far from objective. It deviates from the bulk of O'Reilly's outstanding library in that it is not a scholarly presentation but is instead infused with the authors' personal negative viewpoint. It's possible that they are intentionally attempting to create a demand for their business services by inspiring fear.

My concern about the rigor of their sources was highlight by the inclusion of a reference from [...]

In general, there is not enough information and insight in this book to warrant spending money on it. Instead, if you are interested in a superficial listing of agencies and constraints, I suggest skimming through a library copy or better yet, do an online search on "digital privacy" to retrieve more informative online sources.
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on October 17, 2011
A book that is slight in pages but strong on content.

Terence Craig and Mary Ludloff take the reader on a swift but informed journey across the landscape of modern privacy issues arising from our online life. Predictably the book is full of caution and warning - it is no surprise that our private information is doing the rounds in places that we don't know, and governments are encroaching our privacy under the banner of national security. Orwell's Big Brother isn't alive and well - he has been replaced by an even more worrisome industry of data aggregators who make their living by combining our on-line information from multiple sources.

The strong points of the book are many. A cogent discussion of the issues, a review of the various approaches to legislation in the US, Europe, China and even my home nation, Australia. And what I liked most - a balanced assessment of the risks and a nod towards the upside - all that 'free' stuff we get on the web courtesy of surrendering our personal information.

The downsides of the book? Not many, although I would have liked the authors to have shared some more of their insights into what the world might look like in ten years hence. Not crystal ball gazing, just what some of the implications might be depending on how current developments play out.

If you have a couple of hours to spare (the book is under 100 pages) and you want to get your head around the hard facts of the current privacy dilemmas arising from your online life, then you could do a lot worse than cast an eye over this publication. If you want something philosophical with big picture stuff and something to send shudders up your spine, then this is probably not what you are after.
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on October 26, 2011
I found this book a real eye-opener. It is more than likely a quick read if you purchased the paperback, but I had the digital version (94 pages), in which all references (and there are a lot of references) are clickable. Which makes it too easy to get lost in all additional information. I think most of us, in our haste to "get to the content", rationalize that it is only an email, birthday, or zipcode and that's no big deal. If we only knew what was really going on. That is where this book comes in, in a big way. I feel that Terrence and Mary did a great job in presenting the "facts", each covering their share of a wide spectrum of (global) opinions, in respect to their own views. They actually share their own point of view at the end of the book, which an attentive reader would catch a hints of throughout the book. As for me, I was too caught up in disbief in how our data is actually being used. I can see why it's an absolute gold mine for big businesses, governments and the like. The Internet truly is the modern version of the wild, wild west, and though there are those who would try to regulate it, there is just too much data already out there. In fact, both authors are pretty much in agreement on this point, "Once your information is out there, it is too hard to control who uses it, and what it's really used for..." (paraphrased). I would say this is a great read, I loved it, and it leaves me wanting more (information, that is). At the very least, the readers of this book will be MORE aware.
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on February 16, 2014
Do you ever think about the footprints we leave across the web? It makes it relatively easy for anyone to track us. I did a search for something a few weeks ago and after that regardless of where I went on the web; there was an advertisement for that particular thing. Now don’t get me wrong, selective advertising is fine as long as it’s what I’m interested in. But just because I look for something doesn’t mean I want to be inundated about it. It’s rather annoying. This book actually explains how that happens.
I am glad I read this book, as it is truly an eye opener. I believe we should all be aware to the extent to which our personal, and even public data, is being used. We, even in this digital age, need to have privacy. Although we are not doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide, we still don’t feel comfortable with all the data that is kept on us. For instance, I was a member of the bead-a-month-club for a few months, after which I cancelled my subscription. Within a few months I started getting mail delivered to me requesting that I join such and such club which were for young children, all younger than age twelve. My kids are already grown. Now I know where those letters came from, but they’re info is definitely wrong. Or maybe I am, since I had previously bought items on Amazon for Christmas, for all the grandkids.
It’s really a scary thought how much data that so many people are privy to when it comes down to it. I personally don’t think it’s a good thing for anyone to have that much data about us. If you’re concerned about your privacy, or just want to know more, do yourself a favor. Read this book! It will answer many questions you may have, and you might even enjoy the book because it is written in a very engaging style. I recommend this book to anyone who wonders, “Where does all this data go? Who exactly has access to our data? And, most importantly, exactly what do they intend to do with it?"
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on February 22, 2015
As the author of Data and Power: Big Data and Corporate Control in Modern America, I have a deep knowledge of the topics Craig and Ludloff consider. It should be immediately clear that this book is not meant for wide dissemination. It is not popular nonfiction and lacks the polish of a heavily edited and broadly distributed book. However, the information Craig and Ludloff present is excellent and highly important in this age of information. Privacy and Big Data is notable for its timeliness and brevity. For anyone looking for a concise and thorough introduction to big data and its complications in the modern world, this is your book.
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on April 20, 2013
Preserving the right to privacy - a fundamental human right which underpins many other rights and values endemic to democratic society - has unquestionably become a major concern for consumers across the globe. General in its contents and substance, "Privacy and Big Data" nevertheless provides a good starting point for anyone wanting a quick and easy read in order to gain a general but more comprehensive understanding of the privacy debate. Academics, lawyers and other privacy advocates already well accustomed with the privacy debate may find it as a good refresher. It otherwise provides little to no added value to the privacy debate. One recommended way around this issue is to read this book in conjunction with online blogs such as Doing so adds value to the contents of the book, and helps the reader relate its contents to current events.

Structure and Style

The book divides in 5 parts. Part I describes our big data environment, part II discussed the right to privacy in the digital age, part III provides an overview of the main regulators, part IV identifies the main players, and part V tries to thread a needle through the four previous parts of the book. With the exception that it would have been more coherent to place part IV immediately after part I, the book was otherwise well organized, well written and easy read. The obvious creativity reflected in both author's style of writing makes the book entertaining and enjoyable to read. For lawyers and legal academics, this book is certainly good and pleasant break for the mind.


The authors both admit to not being lawyers, academics, or privacy advocates. Indeed, both authors come from a private business background: Terence Craig is the CEO of a company named Patternbuilders, and Mary Ludoff is Vice President of Marketing for Patternbuilders. Yet, chapters 2, 3 and most of chapter 4 deal with issues that fit squarely within the legal domain. For instance, Chapter 2 discusses the right to privacy in the digital age, a rather complex issue which legal academics and lawyers are constantly and vividly debating. Chapter 3 deals with Data Privacy regulators, an area which, properlly understood, can only be authoritatively addressed with the right degree of insight, knowledge, comprehension and expertize.

Perhaps due to this very same reason, the authors are often found making general, overly broad, and sometimes critically mistaken claims, such as "once data has been collected, consumers have absolutely no control over who uses it or how it is used". This last statement ignores the multitude of investigations, reviews, and cases by regulators (which surprisingly are not discussed or alluded to in chapter 3) and the courts which have been advanced by consumers against the private sector. These statements are never valuable in that they inform lawyers and academics of public perceptions, and that more needs to be done in order to inform the public about the rights, and how personal data can effectively be controlled even when shared.
Another more critical over-statement is made by the authors when they state that data or information is more valuable than gold. This statement ignores the fundamental truth which is at the very heart of the data privacy and protection debate that is, the value of data or information isn't the data or information itself, it is what it potentially enables those who posses it to do with it. This is one critical but fine distinction that is too often overlooked.


Despite the above comments, anyone well versed in data privacy and protection/cybersecurity issues would echo the thought that the book does an excellent job a providing a comprehensive though general overview of the privacy debate. As one major obstacle standing in the way of greater consumer privacy protection is an important lack of knowledge from the consumer's end, this short and pleasant read is in that sense invaluable and unquestionably provides an excellent and logical starting point for anyone interested in the privacy debate. This book gains even further value when read in conjunction with more detailed and current updates in the area of data privacy and cybersecurity. In this last regard, readers may be interested in complementing the read of the book "Privacy and Big Data" with online blogs such as [...] or even [...] Both blogs will allow the reader to better relate the contents of the books to concrete current events.
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on April 28, 2013
I feel I wasted my weekend reading this book. If you are IT pro and expect this book to be written as any other O'Reilly IT books style, then skip it.
99% is theory only, and often ideas are repeated. For exemple first half of the book, its all talking about its hard to define privacy, and thats all just its explained in different words over and over.
It doesn't explain how you are tracked if you expect to hear that and how to see whats its been tracked,...this book will say just marketing companies gather your information by using tracking cookies and they wont go more technical than that. I guess we all know that this can be done by cookies, but how?
Only valuable page I found in this book was page 72, were it listed few sites that can improve your safety a bit. They could name at least few browser extensions that can help us with our privacy on Internet like AD Block...
15min reading on wikipedia about Internet privacy will gain you more knowledge, than this weekend reading.
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on August 24, 2012
Privacy and Big Data by Terence Craig and Mary E. Ludloff is a short, but informative tome. Big Data is an omnipresent IT meme these days and it makes sense to learn more about the topic. This book is not an introductory text on Big Data, but instead inspects the impact of Big Data on data privacy. The book is an easy read and not very long (less than 100 pages), but it offers a plethora of useful coverage on the impact of Big Data on privacy, covering the laws (mostly in Europe and the USA), issues, and trends. The book offers worthwhile knowledge about Big Data and privacy issues and is well worth the time to read for anyone concerned about either topic, including DBAs, programmers, managers, and anyone who shares their information on the Web.
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on April 15, 2014
A book that could have been a web page. While the topic is timely - the effects of Big Data on privacy - the writing reads like an undergraduate student's report that received a C+. Almost half the references are to Wikipedia articles, grammar errors abound, and the writing style is dull at best. There is little here that isn't either common sense or readily found on-line.
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VINE VOICEon March 6, 2012
With Google not just changing its privacy rules, but these slowly becoming a political and election issue, this book gives a short (75 page) overview of not just how we got here but how other countries deal with this issue.

The book doesn't offer many suggestions about how to approach the issue nor does it take sides in this great debate. An unimpassioned, direct approach is what you'll find here. You might want to get out your tinfoil helmet after this read because the authors paint a grim picture on our lack of privacy not just here in the US but all over the world.

This is not a technology book but more of a short essay on issues that business and governments face in their need to obtain data to protect citizens or to maximize profits - balanced against the rights of citizens and their need to feel like eyes aren't always on them.
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