QCon 2018 – Data, GDPR & Privacy

Title: Data, GDPR & Privacy – Doing it right without losing it all
Speaker: Amie Durr

See the table of contents for more blog posts from the conference.

Goals: send right message to right person at right time using right channel (ex: email, text, etc)

One company handles 25% of all non-spam email traffic


  • We don’t trust brands with personal information. 2/3  overall. Nobody in room.
  • Employees at GDPR  compliant companies also don’t believe their company is

Recent thefts

  • Ticketfly – emails and hashed passwords.   Shut down their website
  • Panera – email, name, phone, city, last 4 digits of credit card number
  • MyHeritage – email and hashed passwords
  • Myfitnesspal – name, weight, etc

Need to consider

  • What do you store?
  • For how ong do you store it?

Data and privacy regulations

  • CASL
  • Privacy Shield – for data leaving Europe
  • GDPR – EU
  • Future: Germany, Australlia, South America
  • Not about specific regulations. Need to care about data an privacy. Part of   Brand. Customers will leave

Supply for data scientists far exceeds supply

Build trust without stiffling innovation

  • accountability – what do with data, who responsible, continuing to focus on data perception,  audit/clean data, make easy to see what data  have and how opt out/delete
  • privacy by design – innovate without doing harm, don’t want to get hacked, be user centric, move data to invididual so no storing, what is actually PII vs what feels like PII. Anonymize both

Remember user data. If the user types it in, could be anything in here

What they did

  • dropped log storage to 30 days. Have 30 days to comply with requests to delete data. So  handled by design for log files
  • hash email recipients
  • Remove unused tracking data
  • Communicated with customers
  • Kept anonymized PII data, support inquiries, etc
  • some customers feel 30 days is too long so looking at going beyond law

Can delete parts of data vs everything (ex:: stack overflow)

brand and pr vs actually keeping user safe [like what happened with accessibility and section 508]

My take

Good talk. I liked the level of detail and concrete examples. I would have liked a refresher of GDPR. But there was enough to tell me what to google. That helped with what didn’t know (or forgot).


QCon 2018 – Privacy Ethics – A Big Data Problem

Title: Privacy Ethics – A Big Data Problem
Speaker: Raghu Gollamudi

See the table of contents for more blog posts from the conference.

GPDR (General Data Protection Regulation) – took effect May 25, 2018

Data is exploding

  • Cost of storing data so low that it is essentially free
  • 250 petabytes of data a month. What comes ater petabytes?
  • Getting more data when acquire other companies
  • IOT data is ending up in massive data lakes

Sensitive information – varies by domain

  • Usernames
  • user base – customers could be sensitive for a law firm
  • location – the issue with a fitness tracker identifing location of a military base
  • purchases – disclosing someone is pregnant before they tell people
  • employee data

changes over time – collecting more data after decision made to log

Privacy vs security

  • privacy – individual right, focus on how data used, depends on context
  • security – protect information, focus on confidentiality/accessibility, explicit controls
  • privacy is an under invested market. Security is more mature [but still an issue]


  • culture
  • invest more – GDPR fines orders of magniude higher than privacy budget
  • include in perormance reviews
  • barrier to entry – must do at least what Facebook does if in that space
  • security – encrypt, Anonymization/pseudonyization, audit logs, store credentials in vault
  • reuse – use solutions available to you
  • design for data integrity, authorization, conservative approach to privacy settings
  • include privacy related tasks in sprint
  • design in data retention – how long do you need it for
  • automation – label data (tag/classify/confidence score)   So can automate compliance. Score helps reduce false positives

EU currently strictest privacy policy  Germany and Brazil working on. There was a debate on whether it applies to EU citizens or residents. Mostly agreement that physical location matters

My take

I was expectng this to be more technical. There was a little about the implications of big data like automation. But it felt glossed over. I would have liked to see an example of some technique that involves big data. The session was fine. It covered a lot of areas in passing which is a good opening session – lets you know where to plan. I think not having the “what you will learn” session on the abstract made it harder to know what to expect. Maybe QCon should make this mandatory?

twitter and two factor take two

In 2014, I tried to enable two factor on Twitter and had to turn it off. Given the recent news that Twitter encourages everyone to change passwords, I decided to take another stab at it. I also learned that Twitter has more options for two factor now like Google authenticator.

Step 1: Changing the password

First, I changed the password. I clicked on the drop down with my picture and chose “settings and privacy”. Then I choose password and changed it. I got an email letting me know the password changed. Good.

Step 2: Surprise step – review apps

Twitter then reminded me that I have 18 applications that can access my account and asked if I wanted to review them. 18 sounds high so I said yes. There were a few general categories:

  • Apps with read only access – given that pretty much everything on twitter is public, I don’t mind that I gave a few sites access to read my profile. I did find one that was just for a one time test and doesn’t need it anymore.
  • Piping my tweets to Facebook – yes. I definitely want this.
  • Various twitter clients – some I don’t use anymore so cleaned this up a bit as well.
  • “social reputation monitoring” – it says I gave this site read/write/direct message access in 2015.  I don’t remember this and I certainly don’t want them to have it anymore. Revoke!
  • Linked in – While I don’t mind them having read access, I don’t want them having write access. Revoke. Same with Disqus. I wasn’t nearly paranoid enough in 2013.

Now I have 13 apps with read (or read/write) access. Still a lot, but at least I know what they are. It’ll be interesting to see which of the read only ones break. “I don’t mind” is different from “I really want it to work”

Step 3: Login verification (two factor)

As I was looking for two factor, I saw “login verification” under account options. That turns out to be what Twitter is calling two factor. I guess it sounds less scary.

However “setup login verification” was disabled. It says I need to confirm my email to turn this on. Ok. So how do I do that? It appears the only way to get a confirmation email is to change your email address. It was a bunch of steps, but I did:

  1. Change to myRealEmail+twitter@gmail.com (because gmail lets you add a plus and more text and still sends to you)
  2. Enter twitter password to confirm it is me
  3. In email, click confirmation
  4. Repeat these three steps to switch back to and confirm my “short form” email. (so I remember what I gave them)

Ok time to turn on two factor with SMS

  1. In account settings, click “setup login verification”
  2. Click start
  3. Enter twitter password to confirm it is me
  4. Send SMS code
  5. Enter SMS code from phone
  6. Generate a backup code in case I ever have issues

Now I have the option to setup alternate two factor methods

  1. In account settings, click “review your login verification methods”
  2. Click “setup” next to mobile security app
  3. Use google authenticator to scan the barcode
  4. Enter the generated code from google authenticator into twitter

Finally, I clicked “edit” next to text message verification so I am just using google authenticator and not text message.

Step 4: My twitter clients

Ok. Now for the test. Can I use Twitter in the devices I care about most? Things seem to work. Will post an update if that no longer stays the case!


  • I can still use twitter on all my devices. So I don’t get prompted to login after the password change or two factor. It only takes effect for new logins. (This is good; I have a lot of places that I am logged into twitter.)
  • I got an email from an identify monitoring service that they no longer have access to my twitter. This service only told me about my own tweets so I’m leaving them without access. I was hoping they would tell me about other people’s tweets. I know what I tweet. And as fun as it is to be told I used the word “password” in my twitter…