24 October, 2009

Cultures Different from Ours

Norway releases a list of every Norwegian's 2008 income and wealth. This is some pretty awesome data, but it's interesting to see how privacy norms vary across countries. The US, for example, is pretty strict about getting access to person-level Census data, which doesn't even have names attached. They're afraid that someone could guess who you are through seeing where you live, how many children you have, etc. To work with it, you have to go into a room that nothing comes in or out of except your statistical results. Japan keeps the records in a locked warehouse and essentially throws away the key.

So what drives these differences? The US could never get away with doing what Norway's doing--would Tea Partiers revolt? But in Norway those opposed just lodge polite complaints.

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