Can a big leak on privacy stop Big Data?


Bill Franks is Chief Analytics Officer for Teradata’s global alliance programs.  So he knows more than a little about what’s going on in the Advanced Analytics space. He predicted on the International Institute for Analytics’ 2012 that the evolution of big data will depend on how the privacy issue would be handled.  He said:  ‘I have wondered what the “big moment” will be that causes everyone to realize how much about them is exposed and leads to a major popular revolt. Honestly, I thought the big blow up in December around Carrier IQ would be that moment.’

The [Carrier IQ] software collects usage information aimed at helping telecommunications companies and mobile device manufacturers identify hardware or network issues. […] The phone was even capturing key presses such as when you entered a password on a secure website. Naturally, this caused a huge uproar. (You can view this series of articles from CNNMoney for more detail: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

As you see, the intention of the software may be completely valid, but any e-recording entails a risk for privacy.  It is critical to create awareness of this risk, and that the access and usage of all recorded information must be regulated.

[…] The extent to which the tracking of behavior on the internet occurs – with Facebook, Google, and other public sites capturing data about who you are, what you are doing, where you are going, and what you want – is not known to most people. Even though many privacy policies technically declare intentions to collect and use data, the dozens of pages of “legalese” terms used aren’t read or understood by most people.

[…] I believe that privacy concerns will be a major influence on how big data itself, and the use of it, evolves. There will need to be an extremely high level of trust between organizations who want our data and those of us who provide it. That trust must be earned and maintained. All it will take will be a few cases of violated trust, intentional or not, to derail the relationship and set us all back.


Though I don’t think a leak of privacy will ‘set us back’ as Bill Franks says, I do think there is a big need to create a trusted organisation, institution or other group to regulate the privacy issue.  If there was such a ‘Trusted Privacy Organisation’, there would be a way to work only with the applications that adhere to there standards and/or allow audits from such an institution.


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