Big data is the term used to describe the huge volumes of data generated by traditional business activities and from new sources such as social media.
Companies use sophisticated software to analyse this data looking for hidden patterns, trends or other insights that they can use to better tailor their products and services to customers, anticipate demand or improve performance.
Accessing Big Data means more information but at what cost to our privacy?
Big data requires transparency in order to be properly gathered and utilised, Of course, this leads to data being a business, with people such as data brokers, collecting massive amounts of data about us, often without our knowledge and shared in ways that we don’t want. For big data to work ethically, the data owners need to have a transparent view of how our data is being used – or sold.
Our ability to to reveal patterns and new knowledge from Big Data is moving faster than our current legal and ethical guidelines can manage. If we fail to uphold the values we care about in our new digital society, then our big data capabilities risk abandoning these values for the sake of innovation.
There is a lot of ambiguity regarding Digital Surveillance, I think it is probably because the authorities have not done enough to explain to parliament and the public how they go about balancing our rights to security and to privacy.
We should not stop debating the underlying issues as technology continues to advance: about how governments go about balancing rights and responsibilities as they try both to keep us safe and to maintain a free and open society in which privacy is respected. We need therefore to be clearer about the digital ethical principles.
The law on digital communications needs to be clear and quick to adapt to change in order to keep legislation current, effective and just.
Secret intelligence should be a last resort method, there should be suspicion beyond doubt of wrongdoing in order to record data.
There is obviously a very delicate balance between allowing the security firms to protect us whilst upholding our own civil liberties in a democratic state. For the future we should ensure that they have the tools to keep up with the newest technologies. If we do not, then the only winners will be the enemies of a free and open society.