Report: Fear of Govt. has Valley Kicking Data Addiction

NSA Headquarters Fort Meade
Silicon Valley firms are re-evaluating their taste for data acquisition in light of government requests and fears of data theft.

In-brief: Fear of government surveillance and data theft is forcing Silicon Valley firms to rethink their taste for data acquisition, The Washington Post reports.

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the changing attitude among data-hungry Silicon Valley technology firms when it comes to data aggregation.

In an environment of increasing tension between tech firms, law makers, law enforcement and the Intelligence community, many firms that once staked their future on vacuuming up and mining as much data as they could about users are pulling back.

From the article:

“We have to keep as little [information] as possible so that even if the government or some other entity wanted access to it, we’d be able to say that we don’t have it,” said (Larry) Gadea, founder and chief executive of Envoy. The 30-person company enables businesses to register visitors using iPads instead of handwritten visitor logs. The technology tracks who works at a firm, who visits the firm, and their contact information.

“In Silicon Valley, there’s a new emphasis on putting up barriers to government requests for data. The Apple-FBI case and its aftermath have tech firms racing to employ a variety of tools that would place customer information beyond the reach of a government-ordered search.

Even early-stage companies are rethinking data grabs and “see holding so much data as more of a liability than an asset, given the risk that cybercriminals or government investigators might come knocking,” the article notes.

Of course, warnings about Big Data’s (mostly) unspoken risks aren’t new. This blog reported as early as 2013 on warnings from prominent researchers and technologists about the down side of the Big Data trend. But increased efforts by Congressional lawmakers as well as prominent law enforcement officials to ensure access to data stored by tech giants has changed the terms of the debate.

“Engineers are not inherently anti-government, but they are becoming radicalized, because they believe that the FBI, in particular, and the U.S. government, more broadly, wants to outlaw encryption,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen said in a recent interview, the Post reports.

Read more here: What’s driving Silicon Valley to become ‘radicalized’ – The Washington Post

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