Privacy / Security

Pros and Cons of Big Data Spying

After it was revealed that the National Security Agency was monitoring the phone calls of world leaders and storing massive amounts of data about the rest of us, President Obama gave a major policy speech about individual privacy and modern technology.

“When you cut through the noise, what’s really at stake is how we remain true to who we are in a world that is remaking itself at dizzying speed,” he said in January.

To explore this new world where governments and companies have the ability to amass, analyze and use vast amounts of personal information, the president ordered a comprehensive review of what’s called “big data.”

The first of three meetings in this review process took place at MIT Monday.

‘Big Data’ And The Future

Big data is a big deal, says White House adviser John Podesta, head of the presidential study on the future of privacy and big data and the keynote speaker at the MIT workshop.

“We’re undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used,” he said.

Podesta was supposed to appear in person but a snowstorm grounded him in Washington, D.C. He spoke by phone and suggested the trajectory of technology and our willingness to make public our personal information seems clear.

“On Facebook there are some 350 million photos uploaded and shared every day,” he said. “On YouTube 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute, and we’re only in the very nascent stage of the Internet of things, where our appliances will communicate with each other and sensors will be nearly ubiquitous.”

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