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  • May 21, 2015

Big Data and the Future of Privacy - paper review (Part 3 of 3)

Wes Prichard
Senior Director Industry Solution Architecture

This is part 3 of a review of a paper titled Big Data and the Future of Privacy from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law where the authors assert the importance of privacy in a data-driven future and suggest some of the legal and ethical principles that need to be built into that future.

Authors Richards and King suggest a three-pronged approach to protecting privacy as information rules:

  • regulation
  • soft regulation
  • big data ethics

New regulation will require new laws and practitioners of big data can seek to influence those laws but ultimately only maintain awareness and adherence to those laws and regulations. Soft regulation occurs when governmental regulatory agencies apply existing laws in new ways, such as the Federal Trade Commission is doing as described in a previous post. It also occurs when entities in one country must comply with the regulatory authority of another country to do business there. Again this is still a matter of law and compliance.

The authors argue that the third prong, big data ethics, will be the future of data privacy to a large extent because ethics do not require legislation or complex legal doctrine. "By being embraced into the professional ethos of the data science profession, they [ethical rules] can exert a regulatory effect at a granular level that the law can only dream of." As those that best understand the capabilities of the technology, we must play a key role in establishing a culture of ethics around its use. The consequences of not doing so are public backlash and ultimately stricter regulation.

Links to Part 1 and Part 2

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