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The CIO information privacy dilemma: Shield data or mine it?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say nobody likes to be unknowingly spied on. So when Edward Snowden broke the news that the National Security Agency was looking at and collecting people’s private information, the public at large was not happy. But data privacy is an issue that poses a particularly sticky challenge for CIOs.

As CTO Niel Nickolaisen asks in his piece on the digital footprint and whether it’s a boon or bane to business, “How do we each manage the two sides of digital tracking? Do we prefer privacy over the clear economic value of customer intimacy?”

It seems some vendors like SpiderOak, a service that allows users to privately store, sync and share their files, are coming down on the side of protecting customer data. The service encrypts stored information, Associate Site Editor Fran Sales reports in this week’s Searchlight column, and even unleashes a “warrant canary” to subtly notify users that the government has come calling for their info.

For CIOs, however, the decision not to mine customer data is not always so easy: As Sales notes, CIOs are often asked to take their customer’s data and turn that into new revenue streams. But Nickolaisen also predicts there will be regulations in the future that may force companies to choose privacy over profit; as such, he encourages CIOs to start experimenting with potential solutions.

In other news: Cisco plans to cut 6,000 jobs, Google released a diversity report that showed, not so surprisingly, that its workforce (particularly its tech sector) is overwhelmingly white and male, and more in this week’s Searchlight.

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