Big Data and Privacy

October 25, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 38
Should the use of personal information be restricted?
By Tom Price


A refrigerator that can communicate with a homeowner's smartphone (Getty Images/David Becker)
A refrigerator that can communicate with a homeowner's smartphone is shown at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Big data experts say the amount of information processed and analyzed will increase exponentially in the future. Huge amounts of data will be generated by what many are calling the “Internet of Things” — the online linking of sensors installed on more and more inanimate objects, such as home appliances. (Getty Images/David Becker)

Big data — the collection and analysis of enormous amounts of information by supercomputers — is leading to huge advances in such fields as astrophysics, medicine, social science, business and crime fighting. And big data is growing exponentially: According to IBM, 90 percent of the world's data has been generated within just the past two years. But the use of big data — including Tweets, Facebook images and email addresses — is controversial because of its potential to erode individual privacy, especially by governments conducting surveillance operations and companies marketing products. Some civil liberties advocates want to control the use of big data, and others think companies should pay to use people's online information. But some proponents of big data say the benefits outweigh the risks and that privacy is an outdated concept.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 09, 2018  Privacy and the Internet
Dec. 04, 2015  Privacy and the Internet
Oct. 25, 2013  Big Data and Privacy
Aug. 30, 2013  Government Surveillance
Jan. 25, 2013  Social Media Explosion
Sep. 17, 2010  Social Networking
Nov. 06, 2009  Online Privacy Updated
Nov. 17, 2006  Privacy in Peril
Jun. 15, 2001  Privacy Under Attack
Nov. 06, 1998  Internet Privacy
Nov. 19, 1993  Privacy in the Workplace
Apr. 17, 1992  Politicians and Privacy
Jan. 20, 1989  Your Right to Privacy
Mar. 21, 1986  Privacy in the Workplace
Oct. 18, 1974  Rights to Privacy
Apr. 05, 1967  Wiretapping and Bugging
Apr. 20, 1966  Protection of Privacy
Nov. 09, 1961  Wiretapping in Law Enforcement
Feb. 29, 1956  Surveillance of Spying
Jan. 25, 1956  Eavesdropping Controls
Mar. 14, 1949  Wire Tapping
Civil Rights and Civil Liberty Issues
Computers and the Internet
Internet and Social Media