Privacy Questions Surrounding Big Data

by Angela Guess

Christina Peters has written an article for IBM’s A Smarter Planet blog regarding Big Data and privacy. She writes, “There’s a fascinating new wrinkle in the world of social networking. Pediatricians are using technologies including texting, social media and blogs to reach out to their young patients and give them medical guidance. Sounds helpful. But wait a minute. What’s a mother to think if she sees a Web page link sent by a doctor on her daughter’s smartphone and it’s about depression or eating disorders?”

She goes on, “A column about the trend in the New York Times caught my attention both as a mom and as IBM’s new chief privacy officer. It shines a light on the conundrums we face when dealing with privacy in this era of mobile communications, social networking and Big Data. Thorny issues confront policymakers, businesses and society at a time when advances in technology and media have the potential to solve complex problems yet at the same time could expose so much sensitive information about individuals.”

Peters continues, “Good data stewardship by businesses and governments can help address some of these concerns, but it’s not enough. We need to see voluntary guidelines, established by business groups and government agencies, which clearly lay out the privacy practices under which they operate. Transparency must be at the heart of any privacy practice. At the same time, standard-setting bodies must accelerate their efforts to provide technology standards to enable organizations to employ the best privacy practices.”

Read more here.

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