A few weeks back when President Obama spoke about much needed reforms to government surveillance programs, he also announced the launch of a comprehensive review of “big data.” This means big data will be very big news in the months ahead.
For many, big data is a rather ambiguous term, but really it’s just mass amounts of digital information that can provide a wealth of insights using state-of-the-art analytical techniques. The Internet and new technologies have made big data much more possible and potentially much more valuable. If harnessed properly, big data could inform better decisions in education, healthcare, urban planning, agriculture and more. Of course, big data also raises a number of privacy and security concerns.
At CDT we believe in the power of the Internet and the power of information, so by extension, we support the responsible uses of big data to help address the challenges of society, including to help better meet the needs of individuals. However, this support does not extend to all applications of big data. The NSA’s bulk collection of telephony metadata is a prime example of big data that goes well beyond legal authorities (and that has little usefulness, it turns out).
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