Big data analysis of OkCupid presents a new twist to the privacy debate sparked off by the Apple vs FBI court standoff witnessed earlier.
A few Danish researchers have collected the details of about 70,000 members registered with OkCupid using browser-based data scraping software. The database has been uploaded onto the Open Science Framework which serves as the platform for scientists to exchange their views.
Emil Kirkegaard who is studying graduation at the Aarhus University justified the act on the back of privacy concerns calming all of the information he has posted online are already public stuff. Those include the usual details such as usernames, age, gender, location to the more complex types that the dating site asks its users to share. Those range from personality traits of the user, the type of relationship they’d like to opt for (such as sex) along with even political leaning and so on.
Those crying foul with the entire act including those who might be part of the set comprising of 70,000 users of OkCupid can still be relieved in that its only their usernames that has been revealed while real names continue to be under wraps.
Such big data analysis also opens up a new sort of privacy debate where the data that has been made public aren’t anything that other users won’t have access to. However, while OkCupid users are required to explicitly consent to the dating site mining their profile information along with other online activities, what remains to be seen is whether that amounts to allowing anyone posting their data online.
The topic has emerged to be as much about ethics as it is about privacy. Perhaps that could be the reason Kirkegaard has since used a password to protect the dataset though the bigger question remains; whether anyone has the right to and publish online any information that the user has entrusted the particular site with.
OkCupid hasn’t offered any comment on the issue as yet though it seems to require better security measure to prevent falling prey to such scraping software.