The Thirst for Big Data
It’s the 2nd of October today – as I’m writing this blog the front page on BBC News Technology section is still the Equifax data breach. For those reading this who have been hiding under a rock over the past few weeks – Equifax are the latest in a seemingly ever extending list of companies which have had the contents of their customer databases surreptitiously extracted from their corporate network.
The article1 - an uninspiring article at best - begins to elaborate on some of the breakdowns of the customers hit (nationalities, estimates of numbers and so on) before offering further links onto how the Equifax chief executive Richard Smith has resigned and another article on US lawmakers attacking Equifax over the data breach.
However, another article2 is present on that front page of BBC Technology news today. It covers the number of requests being made to companies like Apple and Google for customer data from governmental organisations. It doesn’t give you any insight into what data has been requested and it certainly doesn’t give you any insight into whom has requested it, or which individual’s data or even the reason for the requests – or whether any defence of the individual’s whom information has been demanded was given.
It raises the question – what are people actually upset about?
- That these details are being taken without their consent?
- That they have no control over their data?
- That companies aren’t responsible with their customer’s data?
- That their credit card information might be available on the internet somewhere?
- That big data is going to be used against them in a more obvious manner?
- That their right to privacy has been obliterated?
Yet there are many parallels between the two articles – at least in my mind. Is the consent of a hidden panel of judges whom (on a case by case basis) will never receive any scrutiny really an acceptable manner to handle your data?
The end game is the exact same – companies are haemorrhaging your personal information at a rate hitherto unreached and its increasing still3 under current legislation, and that isn’t taking into account (or even attempting to forecast!!!) forthcoming legislature changes4 where VISA applicants may be requested to turn over social media history.
Even if one is to make the argument that this is our governmental organisations and that they have a “right” to this information (something some facile it borders delusion); it still does not address the issue of this data residing in multiple disparate sites which are all equally susceptible to breaching.
Surely the rational answer is not to increase in big data but to decrease big data, and to restrict what data entities can hold about an individual.
3The article does reference the UK account requests have decreased by 7% to its lowest number since 2014 but I have three considerations for you… Firstly, it’s the BBC – a ladle of salt is for any rational human when reading any article. Secondly, the article only covers google/apple. Thirdly, it mentions multiple countries, such as South Korea, Spain and Brazil but these aren’t the only ones with these requests.