39% of big data developers say 'government agencies are spying on our data'

So why do they collect so much of 'our' data in unwarranted app permissions?
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A new Evans Data study titled "Data and Advanced Analytics Survey 2013" found that 39 percent of developers are sure that government agencies are spying on their data. Almost three-quarters of the developers surveyed also said traditional security isn't sufficient for big data.

You can find more details in the report itself or read the highlights in a Venture Beat article.

I don't doubt the report's findings that developers believe their data is being snooped. However, I don't know how credible the percentage is of how many are actually seeing their data spied upon, given that the study is based on self-reporting rather than evidence-based reporting. In other words, this could be a measure of government spying or it could be the measure of developer paranoia.

59 percent of the 440 developers surveyed (all of whom are actively working on big database solutions) say they can tell if the government is tapping their data stores. But if this is true, why have none reported any spying activity prior to the Snowden revelations? Yes, I know, often companies are gagged by law not to tell on the government's sniffing around but I find it hard to believe that every developer gets the same marching order from government legal beagles. Also, if developers do know about government spying but are legally gagged against telling, why on earth are so many enterprises developing apps and enterprise app stores? I'm just saying that the math doesn't add up here.

Now it's perfectly reasonable to think the government may be spying on data the app developers possess. Have you looked at consumer mobile app permission requirements lately? Almost all of them ask for permission to record sound, make calls, pictures and videos, read your social media posts and other suspicious activities all without any indication that such is happening to the device owner.

Think about that the next time you take your smartphone with you to the bathroom or place it on your bedside table. Are the app developers and government and gosh knows who else seeing pictures of you naked or on the potty? You'll know when you suddenly get an ad for toilet paper, a weight loss product or a personal lubricant on your device.

So, back to those developers in this study who said traditional security fails with big data (which it does indeed). How do you feel now about giving them permission to collect so much data from your devices just so you can see the weather report on an app, check your LinkedIn status report (yep, the LinkedIn app requires permission to record audio and video too!) or chat with your friends on the Facebook app?

That's the beauty of studies; flip them over and you get a whole different view. Not that the second view is any prettier than the first. Lots to think about though, huh?

For more:
- see Evans Data study
- see Venture Beat article

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