08
Oct 17

BIG DATA – BIG Privacy ISSUE

Goda, October 8.

From the previous posts, a big data has been characterised as a fuel that drives the next industrial revolution into every aspect of economic and social life. Moreover, it was highlighted that handling of data is a central and the main component in the context of creating trust online (Spratt & Baker, 2016).

While in developing countries social, economic and financial activities moved into a virtual space, huge amounts of information, including personal data also, have been transmitted, stored and collected globally.

Thus, one of the main issues moving activities online is that present regulatory environment on the protection of data is far from ideal. Many social and cultural norms around the world include a respect for privacy – some protect privacy as a fundamental right while others include the individual privacy in constitutional doctrines or similar documents. Nevertheless, there are certain countries that are still in process of adopting this rule (UNCTAD, 2016).

Today personal data are the fuel which drives more commercial activities online. However, the relevance of data protection and the need for controlling privacy is inevitable and increasingly important not only in global economy and international trade but in social media also (UNCTAD, 2016). From publicly available data in social media platforms, it is so easy to find everyone’s interests, political or religious views, shopping habits and etc. I believe that most people would feel really uncomfortable knowing that someone knows that much about them.

So, everything can be tracked and controlled by the information generated by online activities and it has become a concern to global data protection, privacy, security and trust.

How is Facebook using Big Data?

Facebook, as the world’s most popular social media network, is sometimes called a massive data wonderland. It has been estimated that there will be more than 169 million Facebook users only in the United States by 2018. “Facebook is the fifth most valuable public company in the world, with a market value of approximately $321 billion” (Monnappa, 2017).

Every day and every second numerous amount of photos and comments are uploaded, posted, liked and shared on Facebook. At first, this information doesn’t seem very meaningful but considering the fact that this giant social networking platform knows who peoples’ friends are, what they look like, where they are, what they are doing, some researchers say Facebook has enough of data to know people better than their therapists. Moreover, as it was mentioned before, for the same reason it has been widely used for many political activities also.

”Apart from Google, Facebook is probably the only company that possesses this high level of detailed customer information” (Monnappa, 2017). Facebook has always guaranteed its users that all the details are being shared only with their permission. Nevertheless, there have always been serious privacy concerns among these users. For example, many of them complain that Facebook’s privacy settings are not clearly explained or they are too complex. Also, it is easy for people to share things unintentionally.

privacy issue

Furthermore, there have been several cases in the United States and the UK, such as a Schrems v Facebook, initiated by consumers and civil liberties organizations to challenge the extent of the surveillance. One important results of the case were the renegotiation of the Safe harbour agreement (now called as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield) which includes a commitment to stronger enforcement and monitoring of privacy and data protection (UNCTAD, 2016).

Moreover, a couple of years ago Belgium privacy commission took Facebook to the court over alleged privacy breaches and users tracking online. According to the report on which the commission was acting, Facebook was tracking users on a long-term basis who visit any page (Gibbs, 2017). The outcome of the case – 28 EU Member States prepared a draft of European law in relation to privacy that would improve the same national regulators’ powers over the companies like Facebook (Schechner and Drozdiak, 2015).

It’s no secret that data privacy is a huge concern for companies that deal with big data. With the help of the new technologies, someone knows more about people than they know about themselves which is frightening. One of the consequences – the majority of people have become slaves to data and have been terrified of social media.

Therefore, not only the countries, societies or companies but people themselves also need to take a great responsibility for their actions. Computers are amazing tools but many people have forgotten that they should use them just like tools. We don’t need to forget the best computer ever created is our brain.