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Communications of the ACM

Kode Vicious

The Planning and Care of Data

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Dear KV,

After several years as a startup, we seem finally to have gotten large and popular enough that management and legal are looking at how we store and segregate our user data. To say this feels like a fire drill would be understating it. Everyone now seems to have an opinion on how we should handle user data. Meetings on this topic would be funny if they were not so tragic. It is not as if we are a huge company that claims billions of users, and, of course, it is important to protect our customers' data. But all the hand-wringing at this point seems to be very late in the game and is likely to end up causing a huge amount of engineering that ultimately does not add value to the product but is, instead, a way for management—or perhaps the legal department—to protect themselves. I cannot imagine this is of value, but maybe you have a different opinion? I suspect at the very least, you do have an opinion that will be more fun to read than the email messages from the legal department. I feel as if we are just rearranging buckets for no good reason.


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