Today, New America’s Open Technology Institute submitted comments to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the office that’s been charged by the President with leading a 90-day review of the implications of “big data” for privacy, the economy, and public policy. OTI’s comments, first delivered as a speech by OTI’s policy director Kevin Bankston at the second of three workshops organized around the White House effort, reflect OTI’s hope that the big data process will inform–rather than distract from–the debate over the National Security Agency’s surveillance of the Internet.
When considering the future of big data and privacy, we must consider the biggest data of all, the data set that encompasses almost all of the others: the data that transits the Internet.
As our offline activities and records move online—our shopping, our consumption of news and entertainment, our financial and legal and medical records and transactions, and an ever-increasing number of personal and business communications of every kind, even the most sensitive—the depth and breadth of this massive data set continues to expand. As all roads once led to Rome, today, nearly all data streams eventually flow into and through the great river of data that is the Internet.