In this past Wednesday's class, we discussed the implications of revealing the identities of online trolls. The conversation reminded me of the some of material concerning the hopes and fears surrounding the Big Data phenomena. Many of those concerns center on the public's right to privacy. A recent New York Time's article addressed this issue:
"In the 1960s, mainframe computers posed a significant technological challenge to common notions of privacy. That’s when the federal government started putting tax returns into those giant machines, and consumer credit bureaus began building databases containing the personal financial information of millions of Americans. Many people feared that the new computerized databanks would be put in the service of an intrusive corporate or government Big Brother. "It really freaked people out,” says Daniel J. Weitzner, a former senior Internet policy official in the Obama administration. “The people who cared about privacy were every bit as worried as we are now" (Lohr, 2013).
Sound familiar? I find it comforting that humanity has been through a similar change before, without the dire consequences predicted at the time having come to pass.
For anyone interested in the size of Big Data, see this infographic: http://visual.ly/how-big-big-data
Lohr, S. Big data is opening new doors, but maybe too many. (2013, March 24). New York Times, p. BU3. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/technology/big-data-and-a-renewed-debate-over-privacy.html?smid=pl-share.
How big is big data: http://visual.ly/how-big-big-data