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

9:00 am Web Privacy & Transparency Confe... @ Princeton University
Web Privacy & Transparency Confe... @ Princeton University
Oct 24 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
On Friday, October 24, 2014, the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) at Princeton University is hosting a public conference on Web Privacy and Transparency. It will explore the quickly emerging area of computer science research that[...]
4:00 pm Big Data and Privacy: Navigating... @ Schulze Hall
Big Data and Privacy: Navigating... @ Schulze Hall
Oct 29 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The rapid emergence of “big data” has created many benefits and risks for businesses today. As data is collected, stored, analyzed, and deployed for various business purposes, it is particularly important to develop responsible data[...]
9:00 am The Privacy Act @40: A Celebrati... @ Georgetown Law
The Privacy Act @40: A Celebrati... @ Georgetown Law
Oct 30 @ 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
The Privacy Act @40 A Celebration and Appraisal on the 40th Anniversary of the Privacy Act and the 1974 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act October 30, 2014 Agenda 9 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome[...]
all-day George Washington Law Review 201... @ George Washington University Law School
George Washington Law Review 201... @ George Washington University Law School
Nov 7 – Nov 8 all-day
Save the date for the GW Law Review‘s Annual Symposium, The FTC at 100: Centennial Commemorations and Proposals for Progress, which will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2014, in Washington, DC. This year’s symposium, hosted in[...]
10:15 am You Are Here: GPS Location Track... @ Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
You Are Here: GPS Location Track... @ Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Nov 11 @ 10:15 am
EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will present twice at the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Annual Sunny Climate Seminar. He will give a presentation on government location tracking issues and then participate in a panel[...]
all-day PCLOB Public Meeting on “Definin... @ Washington Marriott Hotel
PCLOB Public Meeting on “Definin... @ Washington Marriott Hotel
Nov 12 all-day
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will conduct a public meeting with industry representatives, academics, technologists, government personnel, and members of the advocacy community, on the topic: “Defining Privacy.”   While the Board will[...]
all-day W3C Workshop on Privacy and User... @ Berlin, Germany
W3C Workshop on Privacy and User... @ Berlin, Germany
Nov 20 – Nov 21 all-day
The Workshop on User Centric App Controls intents to further the discussion among stakeholders of the mobile web platform, including researchers, developers and service providers. This workshop serves to investigate strategies toward better privacy protection[...]

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