Unmasked p. 492
When your voice betrays you p. 494
Breach of trust p. 495
Game of drones p. 497
Risk of exposure p. 498
Could your pacemaker be hackable?
Hiding in plain sight p. 500
Trust me, I’m a medical researcher p. 501
Camouflaging searches in a sea of
fake queries p. 502
Control use of data to protect privacy
What the “right to be forgotten” means
for privacy in a digital age p. 507
Privacy and human behavior in the age of
information p. 509
▶ NEWS STORY P. 468
▶ PERSPECTIVE P. 479
▶ BOOKS ET AL. P. 481
▶ REPORT P. 536
▶ SCIENCE CAREERS STORIES BY
R. BERNSTEIN AND E. PAIN
For a key to the data in the art here and on the
cover, search for an encrypted URL and decode it.
At birth, your data trail began. You were given a name, your height and weight were recorded, and probably a few pictures were taken. A few years later, you were enrolled in day care, you received your first birthday party invitation, and you were recorded in a census. Today, you have a Social Security or na- tional ID number, bank accounts and credit cards, and a smart phone that always knows where you are. Perhaps you post family pictures on Facebook; tweet about politics; and reveal your changing interests, worries, and desires in thousands of
Google searches. Sometimes you share data intentionally, with friends,
strangers, companies, and governments. But vast amounts of information about you are collected with only perfunctory consent—or none at
all. Soon, your entire genome may be sequenced and shared by researchers around the world along with your medical records, flying cameras
may hover over your neighborhood, and sophisticated software may
recognize your face as you enter a store or an airport.
For scientists, the vast amounts of data that people shed every day
offer great new opportunities but new dilemmas as well. New computational techniques can identify people or trace their behavior by combining just a few snippets of data. There are ways to protect the private
information hidden in big data files, but they limit what scientists can
learn; a balance must be struck. Some medical researchers acknowledge
that keeping patient data private is becoming almost impossible;
instead, they’re testing new ways to gain patients’ trust and collaboration. Meanwhile, how we think and feel about privacy isn’t static.
Already, younger people reveal much more about their lives on the Web
than older people do, and our preferences about what we want to keep
private can change depending on the context, the moment, or how we’re
nudged. Privacy as we have known it is ending, and we’re only beginning
to fathom the consequences.
30 JANUARY 2015 • VOL 347 ISSUE 6221 491
This special issue was also edited by Brad Wible and Barbara Jasny.