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Just How Creepy Is Predictive Search?

PRIVACY IN CONTEXT

July 30, 2013

In a front-page story today, The New York Times reports on the new trend of apps utilizing predictive search to alert users to information they didn’t know they needed. From Google Now to Evernote to MindMeld, these apps scan users’ e-mail, calendar, notes and other items in the cloud or on a device to predict which information will be useful in the near future. A user might receive an alert that traffic is bad between midtown and the suburbs because the app knows that’s where the 10 a.m. meeting is. However, some observers are calling the services invasive and creepy, while others point to issues around context. “What works for a group of 30-something engineers in Silicon Valley may not be representative of the way that 60-year-old executives in New York tend to use their phones,” says UPENN Wharton School Prof. Andrea M. Matwyshyn. (Registration may be required to access this story.) Editor's Note: Context will be front-and-center at the IAPP's Privacy Academy 2013 this September when Shel Israel and Robert Scoble, co-authors of Age of Context: How Mobile, Sensors & Data Will Change Your Life, offer their keynote address.
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