It’s important to understand the side effects of Big Data, even as we embrace it every day. And yes, you’re embracing Big Data whether you like it or not. So what are some of the things you need to be aware of? Let’s take a look at the dark side of the force that is Big Data.
Your Smartphone is Smarter than You Think
Have you heard the term meta-data? It’s a collection of statistics and information that can show others an unbelievable amount of information that tells a story about how you live your life. This data includes a ton of information about who you call, how long your conversations last and where you make your calls from. With modern GPS technology in smartphones, it’s not even required that you make a phone call for your location to be recorded. Pinging off cell phone towers makes location data readily available. Your phone also knows what apps you use, and of course your voluntary shares via social media supplement this information. The crazy part is that this information is saved on phones, and then additionally uploaded to the cloud. So do you really have privacy anymore? Unfortunately, if you carry a smartphone in your pocket, your privacy has been severely degraded.
Can the government access your data?
We all know about Prism, the NSA program to intercept phone meta-data in order to understand trends and zero in on dangerous individuals. But what about other big data? Can the government grab that information without a warrant? Welcome to the world of credit card data, debit card transactions, hotel reservations and more. All of this information can be grabbed from third party organizations without a warrant. Requests for this information is normally served alongside a non-disclosure agreement, which means that the person whose data is being harvested can legally not be made aware. This has only increased after 9/11 with government programs like “Hotwatch” allowing government agencies to access data in real-time.
Search Histories Are Admissible in Court
Are you getting ready to commit a crime, or are you trudging through a nasty divorce? More and more court cases are including information like search history and other electronic data to paint a more comprehensive picture of the individuals at the focus of disputes and investigations. This is incredibly shocking, as many Americans use google as a trusted confidant. When you have a question that you wouldn’t dare ask your friend out of embarrassment, Google becomes a friendly text box that can provide answers. Would you be embarrassed if your search history became public? We admit things, ask intimate questions and plan for things by using the internet. The gateway to the internet is Google, and being able to harvest this third-party data is an increasingly effective method for getting inside the head of those on trial.
Getting New Information Quickly Comes at a Cost
As we mentioned above, Google has become the new credit card transaction. Information is saved by a third-party and is therefore accessible by government agencies on-demand. But Google has gone even deeper. Cookies allow google to track which sites you visit. For example, let’s say you looked up a how to guide that discusses the best way to dispose of a murder weapon. Visiting a how-to website like HowToGetRid.org now creates a record of your visit, which google is made aware of. This kind of information on a massive scale is allowing governments and private entities to learn a ton about us. Are you comfortable with the amount of data being thrown around out there?