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Big Data and privacy concerns

In the era of Big Data, the fight for protection has as of now been battled and lost. The personal data is routinely gathered and exchanged and there are few powerful controls over how it is utilized or secured. Data scientists and analysts are now saying that now is the right time for enactment to recover some of that protection and guarantee that any information that is gathered remains secure.

We have become the product and are being productised and sold to anyone. We’re being monetised and mobilized as products with inducement of the services of we use such as Facebook and Twitter. The dilemma that the regulators are facing is how they can regulate the collection, storage and trading of personal data on the on the internet, when all of these activities, and the corporations themselves, operate across multiple continents and jurisdictions.

The task of reclaiming some semblance of privacy is all the more urgent because the rate at which personal data is being collected is accelerating. The buzz around big data is attracting millions of dollars of from investors and brands hoping to turn a profit, while intelligence agencies are also furiously collecting information about our online activities for much different purposes.

And alongside these, there’s also the black market operators that make millions of dollars a year out of things like identity theft and matching disparate data sets across the web to help identify people who might be suitable targets for a scam. 

New privacy principles were recently passed into law which required all businesses earning more than $3m annually to disclose to customers how their information was being stored and used, however the new legislation stopped short of mandating compulsory data breach notifications for businesses who fall victim to security violations.

A bill that would make it illegal to hide security problems was set to pass into law last year, however it failed to make it through both houses of the Senate before the election. And since the Coalition took power, the legislation has stalled. 

Still, there are many privacy challenges ahead, and the problems have by no means been solved. Most methods of anonymizing do not scale well as p or n get large. Either they add so much noise that new analyses become nearly impossible or they weaken the privacy guarantee. Network-like data pose a special challenge for privacy because so much of the information has to do with relationships between individuals. In summary, there appears to be “no free lunch” in the trade-off between privacy and information. To read more: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/20/little-privacy-in-the-age-of-big-data

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