This Week in Data – 22 November

This week in data – 22 November:

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


Congress comes knocking on Google’s door

Last week we talked about how Google and Ascension Health have partnered to collect some information on patients and their data. Now, Congress asks: what’s up with that? The House Energy and Commerce Committee want answers, calling the agreement “disturbing”. They ain’t happy.


“Despite the sensitivity of the information collected through Project Nightingale, reports indicate that employees across Google, including at its parent company, have access to, and the ability to download, the personal health information of Ascension’s patients.”


Americans’ view on data collection revealed

Pew Research has a bunch of numbers on how Americans view data collection and privacy, and the results…are varied, to be quite honest. There’s a heap of good data in there about what they think about ads, tracking, etc. One stands out: most Americans believe data collection has more risks than benefits. 81% say the cons outweigh the pros. Businesses have a lot of work to do.


“Americans don’t feel they benefit personally from the data collection, either. Just 5% of adults say they benefit a great deal from the data companies collect about them, and 4% say the same about government’s data collection.”


Google cracks down on ad data

Back to Google: it’s changing things to better comply with European data regulators. It will no longer tell clients about the types of websites where certain ads could appear, as that breaks several privacy regulations. However, this is a big deal for some clients: they want to know their ads won’t appear next to anything seedy.


“Google will still broadcast ‘bid requests’ that detail what you are watching, reading, or listening to to countless companies,” said Johnny Ryan, chief policy officer at Brave Software Inc., which makes an ad-blocking browser. “These bid requests will include information about where you are, and enough data to link things about over time.”


Quebec wants you to share ride data

Weird! This new law in the Canadian province of Quebec is meant to treat ride share and taxi services equally, but now forces those services to provide real-time location data to government agencies. That’s…ripe for some controversy, we think. Given what’s happened lately with LA and Uber scooters, transport is having a bit of a time lately.


“Real-time and individual-level trip data is particularly sensitive information, even when obfuscated to some degree. It can often be re-identified, and could create a comprehensive view of the movements of individual Quebecois.”


Canada starts standardizing data

Staying in Canada, the country is launching a huge data standardization play. We’re a fan. The Government has told a working group to examine how interoperability, cybersecurity, privacy, ethics, accountability and accreditation can play a part in any data standard.  

Canada is yet another country, alongside Australia and Singapore, that are investing millions into making sure data standards and tech are preparing for a new data-led century.


“The group’s aim is to deliver a “comprehensive and consensus-based standardisation roadmap and a concrete set of recommendations” on data governance by the end of 2020.”


Aussie politicians are failing when it comes to data

Ouch. Labor innovation spokesperson Clare O’Neil says politicians just aren’t with the times, but more importantly speaks to the use of data. It’s the new oil, she says (repeating the maxim),  but politicians aren’t set up to discuss its potential – or the potential of any tech – in any reasonable capacity. What’s the answer? O’Neil just says they need to do better. 


“Raising big and unfamiliar policy problems in the context of specific and urgent decisions just isn’t conducive to exploring the issues properly. We saw this with encryption and metadata, where even some of the people advocating for the legislation didn’t seem to understand it properly.”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informative. 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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