Legislation may be inherently reactive, too much delay however is a capital sin since it would damage those who need protection. Nowadays there is a rapidly growing concern regarding Big Data applications that may diminish our privacy rights. The current data explosion is taken to be an unprecedented potential threat. Thank heaven no accicidents have happened yet. As far as we know at least, and exactly that is an important part of the question. Are we still in control? If yes, can we stay ahead? If not, how can we regain it? And first and foremost, how do we determine our stance in this age of ever bigger and faster data?
International Data Privacy Law tolls the bell
In May 2012 an official editorial warning sign was published in the prestigious Oxford Journal International Data Privacy Law, bearing the ominous title The challenge of ‘big data’ for data protection. Mr. Kuner is the Editor-In-Chief of International Data Privacy Law, Mr. Svantesson is the Managing Editor, and both Mr. Cate and Mr. Millard are Editors. The journal only started off in 2011 and altogether this may well be viewed as the single most powerful indicator – apart from technological and applicative promises – that we should take Big Data darn seriously!
Big Data: explosion and causes
The authors present 8 burning issues, but first they educate the reader on the visualization of Big Data. If we would store 1 exabyte of data on a set of DVDs, and we would transport them by air in jewel boxes, than this operation would take 13,513 Boeing 747s. So the 1227 exabytes that were generated in 2010 would require an air fleet of 16 million Jumbo Jets. And, the authors continue, these are only exabytes. Soon we will be dealing with zettabytes and even yottabytes. Overwhelmed by these facts, the reader learns that sensor data, video cameras, social networks, cloud computing and mobile devices are guilty of the data deluge that may attack our privacy, luring us into ridiculous situations as the one depicted below.
No time for reading conditions online
Most data protection legislation nowadays is still based on the 1980 OESO guidelines. The European Union these days has a Data Protection Directive and is working on General Data Protection Regulation. Like elsewhere in the world notice, choice and consent lie at the heart of this kind of data protection. But online consumers virtually never take the time to properly read tens of pages with general conditions and exceptions. Frantically pressing the Next button and I Agree is the norm instead. For legislators this is unbearable since they must protect people even against themselves if necessary. Education is the least that can be offered, but overloaded with information as we are, that will probably not solve much of the problem.
The whole article can be read here.