Big Data, meet Big Brother. It’s a marriage made in Heaven, or more like Hell, come to think of it.When 1984 rolled around for real, you couldn’t swing a dystopian novel without hitting some article or feature story trying to draw parallels between Orwell’s book and the state of the world at the time.
Hey, it could have been worse. Imagine if social media had been around at the time! Wow.
But the rise of Big Data raises some questions and issues regarding privacy, so let’s take a look at the matter before Big Brother shuts us down.
Big Data Breakdown
For those arriving late to the party, we present a brief definition of Big Data. Although the concept has been around for decades, it’s gained significant traction thanks to the Internet and social media. The “big” in Big Data refers to “The Three V’s”, and they are Volume, Variety, and Velocity.
In other words, Big Data is an enormous amount of information that comes from a huge number of diverse sources and delivered at rapid speeds. It tells people not only your age, gender, and zip code, but your online purchase history, Internet searches, and whether you rent or own your home. Possibly even the names of your pets as well.
See how this can be a privacy problem?
Who Is Allowed To Use Big Data?
That right there is the big question. There have been many discussions about exactly who owns that collected data, and who can access it. As the article “Are You Getting Orwellian With Your Big Data?” asks “… where is the line between deriving useful insights from big data and outright abusing big data?”
Problems ensue when government and law enforcement agencies want to use this kind of data in order to track criminal activity or head off potential threats. After all, those are good things, and everyone wants to be safe and secure.
But as the Snowden incident showed, it’s rather unsettling when we find out just to what extent we and our activities are being monitored. At what price does our security come at?
Not All Collected Information Is Even Used
Here’s another problem. Picture, if you will, data gathered on everyone who uses the Google search engine. How many people use Google every day, not to mention how many times those people log on to it? Now picture all of that information collected, processed, and simply put aside indefinitely.
Now imagine that data, data that probably includes your activities, being acquired and used six months or a year later. After sitting there for months, suddenly all your activities and interests and sites that you visited in the past (and have forgotten about by this time), are seeing the light of the day!
What’s The Solution?
The problem with the issues of Big Data is that there are no simple, easy answers. With Big Data growing ever larger every year, there are no truly coherent, consistent policies in place that universally apply. Just like any new technology, this is terra incognita and requires a lot of trial and error.
For you personally, just bear in mind that anything you do on the Internet stays there forever. Be mindful of just how much information you supply to an online shopping site, for instance, or even your personal profile on various social media networks.
Data today is like gold, and like anything valuable, you need to keep an eye on it. Articles like “Your Data May Not Be As Safe As You Think!” underscore other data-related risks. There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy being online; a little prudence and common sense will go a long way towards keeping your privacy.