That’s title of a report Sriganesh Lokanathan and I completed for the New Venture Fund. Here is an extract from the executive summary. Much of the discussion of the socio-economic implications of behavioral data has focused on the inclusion of more citizens and more aspects of their lives within the sphere of control enabled by pervasive data collection. Effective public policy rests on good information about problems and the efficacy of the deployed solutions. Governments obtained such information through National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
As befitting an article on BIG data, the writer of this piece, done for Center for Internet and Society, is liberal with superlatives. A colossal increase in the rate of digitization has resulted in an unprecedented increment in the amount of Big Data available, especially through the rapid diffusion cellular technology. The importance of mobile phones as a significant source of data, especially in low income demographics cannot be overstated. This can be used to understand the needs and behaviors of large populations, providing an in depth insight into the relevant context within which valuable assessments as to the competencies, suitability and feasibilities of various policy mechanisms and legal instruments can be made. However, this explosion of data does have a lasting impact on how individuals and organizations interact with each other, which might not always be reflected in the interpretation of raw data without a contextual understanding of the demographic.
I spent two challenging days at the first face-to-face meeting of the Privacy Advisory Group of UN Global Pulse in Den Haag. BIt was challenging because it was scheduled adjacent to a privacy commissioners’ conference and because the location was in Europe where privacy protection has been elevated to quasi-religious status. We as researchers are trying to solve problems that affect millions of people in developing countries such as traffic, unresponsive and poorly planned cities, the spread of diseases and so on. To us privacy and other harms matter, but in the foreground of our thinking we always place the social problems we are trying to solve. We attack the privacy problems because they get in the way of the larger purpose.
I moderated CPRsouth 10’s opening plenary that looked at the competitiveness, privacy and marginalization issues associated with the emerging field of big data. Attached are the questions that I circulated beforehand to the experts who participated in the discussion. Here is an excerpt. The document also contains several annexes that provide examples and definitions about the terms that are used. 5.
The Economist’s take on what happened in Dubai. In the medium term, however, the outcome of the conference in Dubai will weaken the ITU—which may not be such a good thing. Among all the controversy it was forgotten that the organisation actually does very useful work, for instance in managing the international radio-frequency spectrum and developing technical standards. And some of the good ideas about which the delegations could agree may now fail to come to fruition. The WCIT reached consensus on a resolution to create a worldwide emergency number (although this would take years to implement).