A look to the future: Big Data and Privacy
So what’s the future of it all…?
When you stop and think about the future of digital and where it’s heading there are exponential positives: convenience, mobility, networking, marketing access to data to name but a few. One negative that is always looming over is the issue of privacy in our digital lives. I read a really interesting article by a security technologist by the name of Bruce Schneir that took a very interesting yet realistic outlook on the future of privacy, big data and the impact of giving the internet eyes and ears on both.
Big Data and how we deal with it is a big trend this year.
Considers that in many ways the internet could easily be considered a surveillance tool, we are constantly being monitored by 100’s of companies, more than you would care to imagine. So far it has largely only been computer data and online activity that have been tracked, recorded and stored. But stop and think for a second about how much of your life is becoming online: banking, shopping, your mobile location always updating and very soon, yes sooner than you would think, your car, home appliances clothes, medical equipment will all too be connected to the internet, always monitoring and uploading data, why wouldn’t they be? Think of the benefits and pressure taken of an already stretched health system by remote care. Shneir refers to this as ‘The internet of things’, the only thing slowing this down is the current price of the tech.
So where will all this data go and who will be able to access it?
Well this is the million dollar question. This is already happening; any device that is mobile or WIFI enabled will update your network automatically with location, of course. What you don’t think about are all the other apps on your phone constantly updating other companies with your location ect, think about clothing such as Nike+ trainers that upload location and training details to the internet, and the new Google glasses that can record both audio and visual, and are also connected to the internet, always uploading data to online databases.
So what does this mean for us?
In the short term Shneir speculates that the sheer amounts of data will put some limitations on what can be done with it,
Well, an ‘internet of things’ means ubiquitous surveillance, if a device knows it has been purchased and is connected to the internet think about this: your car will know you are driving, whether you are in the speed limit and where you are going. Billboards will tailor advertising as you approach and sensitive medical information taken from your home will be digitalized, and all will be uploaded and stored. It may seem almost Scy-fi but this is the realistic outlook on the way things are changing.
Even at the best of times settings do not afford us much actual privacy; he goes further to say that you would expect privacy settings would keep random strangers from learning about you. The truth is, that all they do is keep random strangers who do not pay for the privilege from learning about you.
Big Data is big money
Whether a government forcing access or big corporates buying large quantities of stored data, it is all about power and gaining a better understanding of us. Think about investment banks that base their trades on Twitter stats and how big data is already used to tailor marketing. This is the beginning of big data, moving forward we are going to have to look carefully at how this is managed and to what hands it goes. As we develop better ways of questioning and processing this date the power that it will have we also increase.
Do feel to add your thoughts aswell!