Own your data: system lets you pick & choose what data to share w/sites & apps

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Cellphone metadata has been in the news quite a bit lately, but the National Security Agency isn’t the only organization that collects information about people’s online behavior. Newly downloaded cellphone apps routinely ask to access your location information, your address book, or other apps, and of course, websites like Amazon or Netflix track your browsing history in the interest of making personalized recommendations.

At the same time, a host of recent studies have demonstrated that it’s shockingly easy to identify unnamed individuals in supposedly “anonymized” data sets, even ones containing millions of records. So, if we want the benefits of data mining — like personalized recommendations or localized services — how can we protect our privacy?

In the latest issue of PLOS One, MIT researchers offer one possible answer. Their prototype system, openPDS — short for personal data store — stores data from your digital devices in a single location that you specify: It could be an encrypted server in the cloud, but it could also be a computer in a locked box under your desk. Any cellphone app, online service, or big-data research team that wants to use your data has to query your data store, which returns only as much information as is required.

Among the authors is Samuel Wang, a software engineer at Foursquare who did research at CSAIL as a graduate student.

Read more on MIT News: http://bit.ly/1oCUJZA