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The perils of big data

The perils of big data

Posted Aug 30, 2012 22:14 UTC (Thu) by dlang (subscriber, #313)
Parent article: The perils of big data

> He notes that we have reached a time where the constraint of "big, fast, and varied—pick any two" for databases is no longer valid.

it's now "big, fast, varied, and cheap" pick any three (with cheap being a relative term)

the concerns about Big Data and the uses it can be put to are all valid, but one of the worst things that could happen is to start carving out exceptions, either in terms of who is allowed to do data analysis (the government can, but nobody else), or in terms of who can be tracked (you can track everyone except celebrities or government officials)

And one thing to remember, much of this is passive work. Unless someone tells you that they are doing it, or takes action as a result of this, you may never know that it happened.

Much of the information that goes into these worrisome databases is data that is public to start with, or that we choose to deliberately make public (like twitter posts). No matter what laws are put in place, if the value of gathering this data is large enough, someone will be doing so. It may be rival governments looking for people that their spies can compromise to gather useful information, but someone will do it and all the laws you get passed cannot prevent it from happening.

All that the public can do is punish the worst abusers by not doing business with them, and make it clear that at some point it's not acceptable to do things, even if it's legal to do them.

This is something the public doesn't tend to be very good at, unfortunately. (or at least, they aren't good at doing it in a timeframe that deters most corporate boards)


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