Big data gets leaked to Big Brother

With the explosion of social media, the United States (along with the rest of the world) has become engrossed with the processing of data.  Many companies with an online presence are beginning to use data to their advantage in order to better market to their customers.  More and more people have become increasingly more comfortable providing personal information to online companies in order to participate in rewards programs, social networks, online communities, etc.  Along with this huge increase in “big data” as it is called now, there comes great responsibility as it relates to privacy.  Companies are required to adhere to privacy policies and make sure any customer using their services are clear on that policy.  In general, this information absolutely cannot be used in any other way than for direct use by that company to provide the best service to that customer.  Just recently, the use of this information has taken an interesting turn, especially in regards to personal privacy.

Just recently, information leaked to the press regarding a government program called PRISM, which apparently is a program that was set up to monitor and collect information from large tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.  According to news outlets, many consumers were not exactly concerned with the information.  Many felt that they were already being monitored in some way, shape, or form so this particular news wasn’t exactly life-altering.  Nevertheless, many news reports explained that the big tech companies initially refused to provide access to their cloud-based servers for this PRISM program in an effort to stand behind their privacy policies.  After all, none of this information should be allowed to be given to the government unless there is probably cause for concern at that particular company, i.e. terrorist activity.

As the information leaked out to more sources, additional concerns began to circulate as well.  These were more focused on the businesses themselves.  If these tech giants are so easy to roll over when pushed a bit by the government, what says they all won’t do it again in the future (or had already done it in the past)?  Of course, this same information also began to leak to other countries who are all trying to establish their own privacy laws.  If the US is allowed to collect this information legally, they can technically share this with other governments who are NOT allowed to collect this information directly from their citizens.

With such a vast amount of personal information available over the Web, companies are going to have to continue to establish very specific policies as it relates to customer privacy.  Many companies have begun to establish entire departments dedicated to privacy and/or information security, but it appears there needs to be even more focus.

Were the policies not clearly defined?  Who is responsible for mediating whether or not a company should be required to provide information to the government?


PRISM Spying Brings Questions For U.S. Allies


With Prism Cooperation, Tech Giants Look Weak

5 thoughts on “Big data gets leaked to Big Brother

  1. I agree privacy laws are needed and one of the Governments’ key responsibilities is to protect its citizens’ well-being. With that being said, how many times do we see warning messages pop up on the computer screen? How many times have we just clicked ok without reading the message? I know I’m guilty of it. Having the ability to use powerful tools such as the internet requires personal responsibility as well. We have to know we are living a more public lifestyle. We have to be accountable for our own actions and take into consideration the impacts of our choices when clicking or sharing data.

  2. I personally have never taken time to read the policies but sites like Linked In and Facebook do require you to “agree” to it. For that reason I can’t say if the policy is defined however I learn more about the policy from in class discussions and news outlets. I think it is important that users understand the degree to which their information is being shared and for what purpose. I suppose I don’t have anything to hide but I don’t think my information should be collected only if there is reason for it.

  3. This article touches on a very important point, people not reading the policies before visiting websites, or becoming a part of an online “community”. Just as majority of us, I am guilty of not reading the privacy policies of those sites as well. I have to agree with Jeff, we as individuals need to be responsible for what we are agreeing to before clicking the “agree” button. That being said, I believe that the data collected by companies should not be shared even with the government, without a warrant or safety threat. We should have a right to know who is requesting information about us and why.

  4. This is a very hot topic these days and very timely. I would agree with most of the comments and say that each individual should be responsible enough to read a privacy policy and understand what they are getting into. I do however also believe that privacy statements should not be misleading and more concise and easy to understand. If the government is requesting information on the public I think the consumers should be notified and have the ability to contact their elected official to change a policy that infringes or impacts their own personal privacy.

  5. With companies awareness of collection of data it seems to me that different companies are collecting some amount of the same kind of data,which adds to redundancy of data at several companies and information overload. Companies collect so much data about consumers that the percentage of the data they are able to turn to meaningful information for business purposes is limited, however they still have the cost of storing and protecting this huge amount of data. Data and information overload is a major problem for organizations. Companies like The Nielsen corporation are helping many companies to determine new use for the various data they have collected.

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