Big Data 2014: To Protect And Preserve

Back in August, at the pinnacle of the summer farm show season, a group of precision ag specialists, educators and even a few advanced growers descended upon Iowa State University in Ames, IA, where PrecisionAg magazine hosted our first-ever “Big Data: Managing Your Most Elusive Farm Asset” workshop.

With a day filled with presentations on topics ranging from Understanding the Value of Data to The State Of Data Standards In Agriculture, the inaugural event pretty much proved itself worthy of attendees’ time and effort in making the trek out for the event.
And while all of the presenters had intriguing messages for audience members, one of the more enlightening presentations from that August day in Ames was Oklahoma State University professor Dr. Shannon Ferrell’s talk on maintaining data privacy standards in a today’s world of automated data transfer.

Protection Requires Proaction

An on-stage selfie was likely far from top-of-mind on what kind of things to expect when attendees signed up for the Big Data workshop. Yet that’s exactly how Dr. Ferrell opened his presentation, although he didn’t take the selfie just to show off on social media. It was to make a point about data in precision agriculture and how it’s being collected.

And just what was that point? That, like many of the unsuspecting audience members now making up the background of Ferrell’s selfie (whether they liked it or not), growers today also find themselves subject to their data being collected without their immediate knowledge and/or consent.

“From the moment your tractor or combine sets out from the factory now, your machinery is talking whether you told it to or not,” Ferrell continues. “As the equipment purchaser, you have the right to tell the dealer ‘Hey, shut it off. I don’t want my modem talking to you.’

“But nobody ever does that, because that’s the default setting and that takes an affirmative action on the part of the user to opt-out. Just like me saying ‘Hey, is it okay if I take a selfie?’ and some of you went (shakes head no), but did you do anything to more affirmatively opt out of that data collection? No, you sat there and continued eating your donut.”

NDAs For Ag

So how does a producer not just “sit there eating a donut, and take proactive steps to protect data from non-approved disclosures?

Unfortunately, according to Ferrell, it sounds like something that will involve that oft-dreaded “L” word: Lawyers.

Ferrell says the first step to protect data is to have a strong and comprehensive Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) drawn up and agreed to by all parties, prior to the first data collection event.

The NDA should include a substantial amount of specific information, including what data is to be kept secret, what data isn’t secret and what happens when one of the parties violates the NDA.

Still, a well-drawn out and agreed upon NDA isn’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to data security.

There are limitations to NDAs, according to Ferrell, and they are:

  • When the disclosing party fails to use reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy.
  • When the information in question is already generally known or ascertainable via other means.
    If the information can be learned from either independent discovery or reverse engineering.

“At the end of the day though, what’s so critical is to understand that you need to prevent disclosure by having a good, clear understanding and relationship with your service provider so that the data just doesn’t get disclosed,” cautions Ferrell. “You can have the best NDA in the world … but if the data’s out there … you just cannot un-ring that bell.”

Future Legislation

According to Ferrell, there are myriad rules and regulations (enforced by the Federal Communications Commission) in place currently governing data when it’s contained in personal communications such as telephone conversations, text, voice and e-mail messages. But data captured on the farm has largely been ignored by the legislature up until this point.

That all could change very soon. Coming down the pipeline are potential statutory regulations on data ownership, data storage and disclosure, a decision on whether End User Agreements are enforceable, as well as rules differentiating the handling of aggregate data vs. standalone (farm level) data.

Leave a Reply

Data Management Stories
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementHow to Address the Challenges of Data Science in Agriculture
April 26, 2017
Recently, Joe Byrum wrote an excellent article on the state of machine learning in agriculture. In it, Joe highlighted one Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link Up
April 24, 2017
Farmers Edge announced it has partnered with Allied Cooperative, a provider of agronomy, feed, grain, and equipment services to growers Read More
Data ManagementFarm Market iD Launches Sales & Marketing Platform
April 20, 2017
Following Farm Market iD’s February 2017 introduction of FieldVision, its mobile data-delivery platform, the company announced today its newest online Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’s Rob Berglund on Cognitive Computing
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Trending Articles
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’s Rob Berglund on Cognitive Computing
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Corn close up
Data ManagementFarmers Business Network Releases State of the Industry Style Report
April 17, 2017
Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) released today its “The Voice of the Farmer”, a special research report on the state of Read More
Soybean Closeup
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Agriculture Helps Brazilian Farmers Top 90-Bushel Soybean Yield
April 5, 2017
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the Mato Grossense Institute of Economics (IMEA) estimated that the largest soybean state in Brazil will Read More
Grower Retaile iPad
ProfessionalsField Scouting Apps Boost Efficiency, Speed
March 31, 2017
Scouting is one of the most critical services that ag retailers and consultants can offer their grower-customers. The need for Read More
Bruce Rasa corn AgVoice app
Data ManagementVoice-To-Data Tool Shows Promise For Scouting
March 24, 2017
See it, speak it, record it. No pens, no paper, no lost information. In a nutshell that’s what Bruce Rasa Read More
Downed Drone
DronesOpinion: The Agricultural Drone War Is Over, And They Lost
March 15, 2017
If you are late to the aerial imagery party and think that agricultural drones are the vehicle that are the Read More
Latest News
Data Science tablet
Data ManagementHow to Address the Challenges of Data Science in Agricu…
April 26, 2017
Recently, Joe Byrum wrote an excellent article on the state of machine learning in agriculture. In it, Joe highlighted one Read More
Industry NewsFrom PrecisionAg with Love: Thanks, President Trump! (O…
April 26, 2017
Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s safe to say that today America feels more divided than Read More
Purdue Online Course
ProfessionalsPurdue University’s Online Precision Ag Course Re…
April 25, 2017
An online course offered by Purdue University’s Agronomy e-Learning Academy, Precision Agriculture, has received the 2017 Digital Education Excellence in Read More
Nuffield Scholarship
Ag Tech GlobalNuffield: Promoting the Diffusion of Knowledge of Preci…
April 24, 2017
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet John Stevenson, a 2016 Nuffield Australia Scholarship winner.  As part of the scholarship, John Read More
GPS, Guidance
Business ManagementPromoting Precision Agricultural Innovation in a Risk A…
April 24, 2017
As precision agriculture consultants we constantly are being asked our opinions on where to invest, and how to strategically invest Read More
Case IH Autonomous concept vehicle
ProfessionalsOpinion: What the Heck is A.I. Going to do for Agricult…
April 24, 2017
Let’s pause from the daily toils of ag for a minute and start thinking about the future. In a very Read More
Imagery ipad
Imagery/SensingNew Opportunities with In-season Imagery?
April 24, 2017
When I think about precision agriculture my usual thoughts are around the continuous learning about the variability in a field. Read More
Data ManagementNew Partnership: Farmers Edge, Allied Cooperative Link …
April 24, 2017
Farmers Edge announced it has partnered with Allied Cooperative, a provider of agronomy, feed, grain, and equipment services to growers Read More
Retailer Grower Tractor
ProfessionalsAg Attorney: Sorry Right to Repair Advocates, But You&#…
April 21, 2017
(via AgLaw.us) This recent article on Motherboard is getting a lot of press: “Why American Farmers are Hacking Their Tractors Read More
ProfessionalsAgFunder: Clean Seed’s Wireless Smart Seeder is Set to …
April 21, 2017
(Via AgFunderNews.com) Heard of Clean Seed Capital Group? No? You will very soon because this Canadian company has been quietly Read More
Business ManagementBionic Leaves: Future Source of Endless Fertilizer?
April 21, 2017
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Sentera software
Decision Support SoftwareSentera Launching Field-Edge Plant Population Analysis …
April 20, 2017
Sentera is excited to announce the launch of its closed beta for field-edge Plant Population Analysis, available through its AgVault Read More
Data ManagementFarm Market iD Launches Sales & Marketing Platform
April 20, 2017
Following Farm Market iD’s February 2017 introduction of FieldVision, its mobile data-delivery platform, the company announced today its newest online Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: The Weather Company’…
April 19, 2017
Rob Berglund, global director of sales, energy and agriculture at The Weather Company, discusses IBM’s Watson and applications for advanced analytics that will fundamentally change Read More
Data ManagementInnovation Series Highlights: EFC Systems & 5 Facto…
April 19, 2017
Ernie Chappell of EFC Systems discusses five factors impacting the ag retail industry, the competitive advantages of enhanced customer engagement Read More
Moo monitor
Sensors/IoTUsing IoT to Increase Efficiency, Productivity for Live…
April 19, 2017
When it comes to managing livestock and feed, the goal for every farmer is to be as efficient and productive Read More
corn field
Ag Tech GlobalPrecision Ag Technology Making a Difference in Brazil
April 19, 2017
Editor’s note: Rodrigo Trevisan is Coordinator of Precision Agriculture at Terra Santa Agro in Brazil, where he is responsible for the development Read More
Precision Application Field sprayer
Tools & Smart Equipment5 Ways Precision Application Is Creating Opportunities …
April 19, 2017
Throughout the years, precision agriculture has facilitated improvements to farming equipment, from auto-steer on combines to variable rate seeding on Read More