Value of Data

Value of Data

Driven by the reduced costs of storing and transferring information combined with the increased capacity to instantly analyze massive troves of data, the volume of data being collected and processed across the globe doubles every 18 months.  Technologists, data scientists, researchers, governments and companies believe that analyzing this data will yield new insights across a range of fields, from better health care to a cleaner environment.  Last year, the Obama Administration announced a new, multi-agency “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” in order to encourage developments in the analysis and collection of complex data.

Privacy advocates are concerned that these very same advances could lead to a world where data is used to discriminate against individuals, to profile them, to limit their opportunities and narrow their freedoms.  These concerns are important, but it is also essential to recognize the valuable social benefits that can be derived from data.  By focusing exclusively on privacy risks, regulators and policymakers may fail to account for the value of data uses.

Due to these concerns, big data considerations should focus on maximizing its benefits while limiting privacy concerns.

For an analysis of the relationship between data use and privacy, see Omer Tene and Jules Polonetsky’s articles, “Privacy in the Age of Big Data: A Time for Big Decisions” and, more recently, “Judged by the Tin Man: Individual Rights in the Age of Big Data.”

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Future of Privacy Forum “Value of Data Project”

The Value of Data Project will seek to establish guidelines for making value choices when balancing the costs and benefits of using big data. Current decision-making practices start from the position that big data can pose risks to privacy, often without careful consideration of the important benefits that can result.  With support from Intel and Vodafone, FPF plans to undertake a new initiative to help establish a coherent framework that models big data’s risks against its rewards.

First, drawing on the experience of its members, FPF will present a number of use studies that illustrate the beneficial uses of big data and the practical means for protecting privacy.  These concrete use cases will highlight the benefits and societal value of big data across a range of fields.

The project will attempt to provide a framework that looks at big data from a holistic perspective, rather than focusing primarily on the risks involved.  Expanding on work by regulators and consultants setting up procedures for privacy impact assessments, the project will develop a privacy impact assessment toolbox to help decision-makers decide whether or not to go ahead with a project.

FPF will support the project with a series of academic papers and events designed to highlight the benefits of big data and the need to analyze properly its risks and rewards.  On September 10th, 2013, FPF teamed with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society to present a workshop entitled “Big Data and Privacy: Making Ends Meet.”  Papers submitted for this workshop are available here, and a selection were published in the Stanford Law Review Online.


Big Data Research – 5/04/12

Big Data and Privacy: Same Old Concerns or Something New? – 2/15/13

Increasing Calls for Big Data Dialog – 3/25/13

Privacy Calendar

6:30 pm Behind the Headlines: NSA Surveillance and Ongoing Revelations @ The Washington Post
Behind the Headlines: NSA Survei… @ The Washington Post
Apr 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
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all-day 6th Biannual International Surveillance & Society Conference
6th Biannual International Surve…
Apr 24 – Apr 25 all-day
The 6th Biannual International Surveillance & Society conference hosted by the University of Barcelona and supported by the Surveillance Studies Network is currently calling for [...]
12:00 pm Data Privacy in Education: Ensuring Student Security while Encouraging Innovation in K-12 Education @ Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-354
Data Privacy in Education: Ensur… @ Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-354
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The Congressional E-Learning Caucus in cooperation with Into and the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training presents a luncheon to discuss “Data Privacy [...]
all-day IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive 2014
IAPP Europe Data Protection Inte…
Apr 29 – May 1 all-day
The IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive features timely programming centred on the top issues impacting the European data protection community, with a focus on addressing [...]
5:30 pm InSecurity: Race, Surveillance and Privacy in the Digital Age @ New America Foundation
InSecurity: Race, Surveillance a… @ New America Foundation
Apr 30 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Now more than ever, digital tools sit at a precarious tipping point, and many question whether they will be used to address pre-existing disparities, [...]
all-day IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2014
IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2014
May 7 – May 9 all-day
The IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium is the leading conference for education, debate and discussion of issues that matter most to Canadian privacy and data protection [...]
all-day Privacy Law Scholars Conference (7th Annual) @ The George Washington School of Law
Privacy Law Scholars Conference … @ The George Washington School of Law
Jun 5 – Jun 6 all-day
  UC Berkeley School of Law and The George Washington University Law School will be holding the seventh annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC) on [...]
all-day Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2014 Conference @ Airlie Center
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy … @ Airlie Center
Jun 8 – Jun 10 all-day
Mark your calendars! The 2014 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference will be held June 8-10 at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia. The Airlie Center [...]

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