It’s Raining Data and Privacy: A Look Back at SXSW

A deluge of rain welcomed the Personal team to Austin two weeks ago today. Armed with company swag and a passion for spreading the word about small data and our product, we went to battle with the weather.

As it turned out, SXSW Interactive was raining more than precipitation. Sessions and panels on data and privacy seemed to drop from the sky and made a splash, despite all the buzz around ‘ambient social’ apps. (Observation: these apps were probably the culprits behind draining smartphone power and subsequent hours wasted on searching for power outlets to recharge them.)

But I digress.

Here’s a quick look at a handful of the privacy- and data-related sessions that piqued our interest, including two led by our very own Shane Green and Tarik Kurspahic.

We the People: Creating a Consumer’s Bill of Rights

Placecast’s Anne Bezancon and Personal’s Shane Green teamed up to moderate a lively discussion surrounding the need for a Digital Bill of Rights “by the people, for the people”. The proposed rights, which apply to the “sanctity of the digital self,” are now available for public comment on We welcome and look forward to your feedback.

Data is the New Oil: Wealth and Wars on the Web

Data experts from and MIT Media Lab explored personal data as a new resource with multi-billion dollar implications for our data-dependent world. To avoid the breakout of a war on data, they said, we need to create and raise awareness of a new user-centric ecosystem around the asset of personal data.

Sex, Lies and Cookies: Web Privacy EXPOSED!

Privacy experts from the FTC, the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, Carnegie Mellon and TechFreedom discussed the central question: “How do we define ‘tracking’ and to what extent is it permissible?” Opinions ranged from staunch opposition to all forms of tracking to the belief that any sort of Internet regulation is impermissible.

The main takeaway? Because it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to reach a consensus on the definition and acceptability of “tracking”, creating tools that empower individuals to better control and monitor their privacy is all the more essential.

Big Data: Privacy Threat or Business Model?

How can we protect ourselves, without overreacting, in the age of data abundance? Can we trust the market to deliver the appropriate controls and user education, or do we need regulatory intervention? These were the tough questions that representatives of the ACLU, EPIC and CNET debated, with the majority agreeing that more transparency is needed of companies that aggregate and analyze big data.

How to Build Privacy by Design into Web and Mobile

Personal’s Tarik Kurspahic provided insight on building privacy and security into every aspect of a company – and why companies should be motivated to do so, despite the challenges posed for small teams with limited resources. One message that resonated with the audience was that every employee in a Privacy by Design organization needs to think and act like a Chief Privacy and Chief Security Officer.

We encourage you to check out Tarik’s presentation on SlideShare.

Based on the volume of conversations around privacy and data–at SXSW and beyond–we predict that 2012 will increasingly favor companies that 1) adhere to transparent data practices and 2) shift toward a user-centric model that puts individuals in control of their privacy and data.

Get Personal with us at SXSW

The Personal Team will be out in full force at SXSW Interactive this year. In addition to holding sessions to create a people’s digital bill of rights and share our insights on building a company that follows “privacy by design” principles (details below), we’re here to spread the word about small data.

What is small data?

Small data is big data for individuals. It puts the power and tools of big data, which is geared toward the needs of companies and governments, and not individuals, into the hands of people.

While some say that data is the new oil, we at Personal believe that small data is the new oil.

Learn more about small data >>

Discover #smalldata on Twitter >>

If you spot one of us at SXSW (our t-shirts will give us away), please say hi!

Join us at SXSW

Personal’s CEO Shane Green and CTO Tarik Kurspahic will represent the company at the following sessions on Sunday, March 11. We hope to see you there!

We the People: Creating a Consumer’s Bill of Rights

Date: March 11, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. CT

Location: InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, Assembly Room

Co-Facilitators: Shane Green, co-founder & CEO, Personal; Anne Bezancon, founder & President, Placecast

Join the #mydatarights conversation >>

How to Build Privacy by Design into Web and Mobile

Date: March 11, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. CT

Location: Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom 4-7

Speaker: Tarik Kurspahic, CTO, Personal

Join the #privacy360 conversation >>


Your Personal guide to Austin

As you plan your time at SXSW, we thought we’d offer up these handcrafted Gems of information about Austin essentials, brought to you by Personal.

Learn more about Gems >>

Note: To view this information, you must be logged in to your Personal account.

Austin 6th Street Bars

Indie Austin Coffee Shops

Austin Taxi Companies

Austin BBQ

Downtown Austin Food Carts

Austin Live Music Venues

For real-time updates and tips throughout SXSW, follow us on Twitter. We look forward to getting Personal with you!

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