InforMedia Services (IMS)

Technology Instruction for St. Cloud State University

Center for Democracy & Technology

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on April 17, 2014

Big Data and Privacy

April 17, 2014

Big data has been generating big hype for a while. In January, the White House jumped into the fray, launching a big data and privacy review. CDT participated in all three public workshops convened in connection with the review and submitted written comments.

CDT’s Big Data and Privacy Comments

In our comments, we focused on three main areas: applying the Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) to both private sector and government big data programs; exploring technical measures such as de-identification to safeguard privacy; and reforming existing privacy laws, most notably the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, to account for rapid changes in the ways that digital data is collected, stored, and used.

CDT stressed that, as entities collect more data to offer innovative products and more efficient services, they must still be guided by purpose specification, consent, security, and the other elements of the FIPPs framework.

Government and Big Data

“Strong consensus is forming that the bulk collection of phone records should end.”

-Harley Geiger

The Administration says that it will end its bulk collection of telephony metadata, although the details of what will replace it remain unsettled. Meanwhile, CDT is pointing out that the laws the government has used to justify bulk collection are not limited just to phone records. Instead, they could be used to justify collection of location data, Internet browsing history, financial records, and more. CDT has been vocal in advocating the end of all forms of bulk collection, and we endorse the USA FREEDOM Act as the best legislation to do just that.

A report from the White House review is due before the end of April, but it is expected to present more questions than answers. In this complex and unsettled space, CDT will continue to work with companies and other stakeholders to develop workable approaches that will protect privacy while pursuing the benefits promised by advanced data analytics.


Check Out CDT’s New Website

CDT has launched a totally revamped website: www.cdt.org. It has a fresh new look and tools that should make our content more easily accessible. Thanks to our partners at iStrategy Labs for their creative and technical efforts on the new site.

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