Big data raises serious privacy concerns that need to be addressed, sooner rather than later, report says.
16 Top Big Data Analytics Platforms
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)
Big data's potential is enormous -- for good and bad. A new report from the White House on big data's transformative qualities takes a deep dive into data-related privacy and security issues.
The key takeaway: Big data is creating numerous privacy issues that need to be addressed, sooner rather than later.
"A significant finding of this report is that big data analytics have the potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education, and the marketplace," the report's introduction states. "Americans' relationship with data should expand, not diminish, their opportunities and potential."
The report discusses a variety of privacy topics, including these five:
1. De-identification doesn't always work. Organizations often use privacy-protection technology to "de-identify" data linked to a specific person or device. Unfortunately, re-identification techniques are just as effective at piecing the link together again.
The report states: "…integrating diverse data can lead to what some analysts call the 'mosaic effect,' whereby personally identifiable information can be derived or inferred from datasets that do not even include personal identifiers, bringing into focus a picture of who an individual is and what he or she likes."
As technologies to re-identify "anonymous" data grow more powerful, it's unclear how individuals will control their information and identities, or challenge decisions based on information culled from multiple datasets.
2. "Perfect personalization" could aid discrimination. The fusion of different types of unstructured data allows marketers to "deliver exactly the right message, product, or service to consumers before they even ask," the report says. "Unfortunately, 'perfect personalization' also leaves room for subtle and not-so-subtle forms of discrimination in pricing, services, and opportunities."
Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.