Privacy and Big Data: Making Ends Meet
9 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2015
Date Written: September 3, 2013
How should privacy risks be weighed against big data rewards? The recent controversy over leaked documents revealing the massive scope of data collection, analysis, and use by the NSA and possibly other national security organizations has hurled to the forefront of public attention the delicate balance between privacy risks and big data opportunities. The NSA revelations crystalized privacy advocates’ concerns of “sleepwalking into a surveillance society” even as decisionmakers remain loath to curb government powers for fear of terrorist or cybersecurity attacks.
Big data creates tremendous opportunity for the world economy not only in the field of national security, but also in areas ranging from marketing and credit risk analysis to medical research and urban planning. At the same time, the extraordinary benefits of big data are tempered by concerns over privacy and data protection. Privacy advocates are concerned that the advances of the data ecosystem will upend the power relationships between government, business, and individuals, and lead to racial or other profiling, discrimination, overcriminalization, and other restricted freedoms.
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