Hidden trackers on your phone

Sara Morrison for Recode:

Then there’s Cuebiq, which collected location data through its SDK and shared that information with the New York Times for multiple articles about how social distancing changed as stay-at-home orders were lifted and states reopened. This was just a few months after the newspaper gave Cuebiq’s location collection practices a much more critical eye in an expansive feature, and shows a possible shift in public opinion now that this invasive data might be used to save lives or hasten the return to normality.

People worry about Big Brother, but privacy concerns through our phones and computers is just kind of meh. I keep wondering if that will change. Seems unlikely.

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Study retracted after finding a mistaken recoding of the data

A study found that a hospital program significantly reduced the number of hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Great. But then the researchers realized that the data was recoded incorrectly, and the program actually increased hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Not so great.

They retracted their paper:

The identified programming error was in a file used for preparation of the analytic data sets for statistical analysis and occurred while the variable referring to the study “arm” (ie, group) assignment was recoded. The purpose of the recoding was to change the randomization assignment variable format of “1, 2” to a binary format of “0, 1.” However, the assignment was made incorrectly and resulted in a reversed coding of the study groups. Even though the data analyst created and conducted some test analysis programs, they were of the type that did not show any labeling of the arm categories, only the “arm” variable in a regression, for example.

Here’s the original, now-retracted study. And here’s the revised one.

Data can be tricky and could lead to unintended consequences if you don’t handle it correctly. Be careful out there.

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