US Government Starts Big Data Review to Get Privacy Right

big-dataRevealed by Edward Snowden last year, the NSA spying program has had many repercussions. The PRISM program has cost U.S. industry a $22 to $35 billion loss over three years. More than that, NSA spying caused more damages to political, diplomatic and civil society.

The White House now launched an action plan surrounding the collection, availability, and use of big data and the growing use big data analytics and its potential impact on the future of privacy.

As part of the program, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will examine an in-depth study to explore the technological dimensions of the intersection of big data and privacy. President Obama’s counselor John Podesta, who is leading the review, will be working with privacy experts, technologists, and businesses over the next 90 days to examine how challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors, whether the group can forge international norms on how to manage this data, and how they can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security.

PCAST’s study results on big data and privacy will be used to create a comprehensive report that will determine the future technological trends and key questions surrounding the collection, availability, and use of big data. The report will identify technological changes to watch, determine whether those technological changes are addressed by the US’s current policy framework, and highlight where further government action, funding, research, and consideration may be required.

“We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used,” Podesta wrote. “The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy, and public policy. The working group will consider all those issues, and specifically how the present and future state of these technologies might motivate changes in our policies across a range of sectors.”

Snowden’s NSA leaks has raised concerns that data can be used for purposes other than the purpose for which it was collected by companies. This may mean a shift in the amount and type of information that people are willing to share. Thus, the government site said the working group will consult with industry, civil liberties groups, technologists, privacy experts, international partners, and other national and local government officials on the significance of and future for these technologies.

If it is not desirable or realistic to oppose the development of these new business models, it requires to conduct a thorough reflection on the mechanisms to be implemented to achieve a balance between these imperatives. The 90-day process is intended to yield a report about how the present and future state of these technologies might motivate changes in policies across a range of sectors.

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