This Week in Data – 12 July

This week in data – 12 July: Each week, we compile the best stories in data. Get up to speed on this week in data without having to search for it.


We’re wasting half our time finding information

So…we’re getting more information. That’s good. But data scientists and analytics professionals are spending way too much time actually trying to find it and clean it in the first place. That’s according to a recent IDC report, which says 30% of data workers say they spend too much time preparing data. Surely that’s a problem we ought to solve, right?


“Alan Jacobson, chief data and analytics officer (CDAO) of Alteryx said: “As the data landscape becomes more complex, this survey exposes the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sheer volume of workers needing to conduct analysis on a daily basis and the untapped potential for them to drive meaningful business impact.””


We have a moral imperative to use artificial intelligence

Say what? Apparently so. While the rest of the world is struggling with how to use data appropriately, and in a way that helps both businesses and workers, a piece on MIT’s Technology Review offers a different stance. Ieva Martinkenaite, vice president, AI and IoT business development, at Telenor Group, says we have a moral obligation to use AI to improve everyone’s lives. That’s certainly a take. 


“While a fairly light-touch governance structure will boost innovation in AI, Martinkenaite said it is also important for legislatures to review existing laws with a risk-based and proportional approach: “You cannot apply the same rules of ethics and legal implications to all different applications of AI.””


Data treaties are dropping like flies

Next week a European court will answer this question: if Facebook can’t guarantee data privacy for EU citizens, does that mean data can transfer between the two regions at all? It might seem far-fetched, but it has massive implications for the future of data in the region. Not just for Facebook. For everyone.


“On Tuesday, the court will establish whether standard contractual clauses—the legal tool that Facebook and many other companies now use—are also invalid. In evaluating the clauses, the CJEU will size up the Privacy Shield too.”

“After all, if U.S. mass surveillance laws mean companies can’t abide by the privacy-protection promises they make in standard contractual clauses, the same could easily apply to their similar Privacy Shield promises.”


Researchers wrestle with health data apps

Fitbit, Apple watches, and other health devices offer researchers a huge amount of data to play with. But they’re still grappling with ethical challenges. As The Verge lays out, researchers can use commercial tech to get data – but that data doesn’t always tell the full story. 

Which means it’s not always useful. Dang. The answer? Closer relationships between academics and app-makers. Possibly.


“Apps should, therefore, provide users with information about the institutions using data for research, the purpose of that research, who benefits from it, and the privacy protections in place…What might be right for you might not be right for me. I might not want my data to be used for mental health research, or it might be really important to you that data is used to benefit underserved populations.”


British Airways smacked with huge GDPR fine

Yikes. Remember last year, when British Airways suffered a huge data breach? Well, now they’re coughing up £183 million for it. “Poor security arrangements” are the culprit, and yeah, sure looks like it. It’ll be the biggest fine the Information Commissioner has ever handed down. Expect more of these in the future.


“People’s personal data is just that – personal. When an organisation fails to protect it from loss, damage or theft it is more than an inconvenience. That’s why the law is clear – when you are entrusted with personal data you must look after it. Those that don’t will face scrutiny from my office to check they have taken appropriate steps to protect fundamental privacy rights.”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informational. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and anything else data related! Email us anytime at!

Until next week,

Team Data Republic

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