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It is projected that by 2020, 1.7 megabytes of data will be generated for every person in the world, every single second; and the proportion of data that needs to be protected is growing faster than the digital universe itself. All the data coming in large volumes from different places is called Big Data.
Big data basically means sets of structured or unstructured data whose volumes are so large and so complex that traditional data processing software cannot process them within a reasonable amount of time. The information mined from these sets are then analyzed and put to good use. Big data involves more than just the volume and complexity of data, however. Doug Laney laid out the definition of big data in 3 V’s.
Volume: Data is collected from everyone, everywhere. From social media activity to online shopping, data can be farmed from everywhere.
Velocity: The speed at which data streams in near-real time thanks to RFID tags, sensors, and smart metering.
Variety: Big data comes in different formats—emails, texts, videos, forms, business transactions, etc.
Some real world uses for big data include:
- Retail organizations and commercial companies monitor social media activities to find out emerging trends in the market. This way, they can ride the trend and start selling things people are clamoring for at that point in time.
- Financial organizations analyze data from their clients to organize them into different groups. This categorizing results in more optimized programs that can better serve the needs of their clients. Data analyzed from their clients’ activities could also help detect fraud.
- Hospitals analyze patient data to foresee which patients would most likely be readmitted and plan treatment programs that will prevent the patients from needing to be readmitted.
- Industrial companies use machines that gather data that allows them to figure out when a certain machine would need upkeep or replacement.
Data extracted from big data can be very helpful in a lot of ways for many people and organizations. However, as a now famous fictional uncle once told his nephew, “with great power comes great responsibility.” There are two major considerations when trying to build a business around big data. One is data ownership — who has the rights to an individual person’s data and what rights do the government, financial, commercial or health institutions have to them.
The other is data protection. Once an institution or business has access to their clients’ data, how do they protect the private information that go through their systems on a daily basis?
With the scandal of data leaked or sold by such a large social media company as Facebook, more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of leaving their personal data unprotected. Realizing that something as innocuous as answering online quizzes could actually be used for data mining is somewhat worrying.
Having a good grasp of the legal implications of going into big data is very important. Big data is still an emerging and growing market. If you have any concerns about the legality of anyone, be it an individual or an institution, using and keeping personal data, it is best to get in touch with a lawyer that understand the legalities surrounding data rights, privacy, and protection.
Contact us at Hogan Injury for expert legal advice.
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