The Ethics of Big Data

October 3, 2015

12:00 pm

Big data generally refers to information that is either unstructured or multi-structured. Unstructured is information that is not easily interpreted or organized and it has to be micro-analyzed in order to turn that data into value for businesses and government. It can refer to content heavy websites and databases as well as metadata.

Multi-structured data can be derived from individual interactions between people across a diverse range of websites and handles such as social media, chats, comments on websites, direct human interaction with the internet and smart city data statistics. The multi-structured avenues continue to expand and evolve as internet technologies emerge and adapt keeping up with the current and foreseeable economy.

Benefits of Cloud Computing and Importance of Security

Cloud computing lets you use applications and files from a network of remote servers that are hosted on the internet. It lets you store, process, and manage your data and files rather than using a personal computer or local server. Many businesses jump ship to migrate from costly business infrastructures to a more cost-efficient handle such as cloud computing.

The sensitive nature of personal business information as well as its clients information makes cloud security a critical element that can make or break a business. For instance, if customers find out that the business mishandles their personal information, it would not be long before the customers or clients cut ties with the business because of its failure to meet and exceed reasonable expectations in customer-business relationships.

The Principles of Big Data Ethics

Whether you are a software developer or web designer or a business that owns a cloud computing handle, big data ethics are critical in how you program, create, and manage software, websites, and interfaces that facilitate cloud computing. If you are business or potential client that is interested in migrating to cloud computing,chances are you have used free web programs like Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo, then you have experienced the power of cloud computing. The storage and the software that creates the programs are not actually on your computer or personal server; it is on the company’s servers where they host the cloud.

There is not anything new when it comes to big data management and how that data is analyzed. As innovative internet technologies are ushered in to foster a new era in the information age, the ethical framework of how that data is managed changes as well. A concern in big data is determining who owns all that data that you may be analyzing. Do ethics determine what kind of inferences that can be made based on that data or whether you can make decisions based on that data? Is it illegal to use that data from the cloud to create tailored marketing collateral? Are there ethical concerns when it comes to the acquisition, compilation, and the sale or purchase of that data? Does the acquisition or compilation breach privacy concerns.

Big data is more than indirectly and directly related to money, power, and marketing collateral. When it comes to big data ethics, privacy is not necessarily dead, shared information can still have a reasonable degree of confidentially, but big data can still compromise identity and other information that customers and businesses prefer to be confidential. Privacy is just a colloquial term for the rules of information and how that information is shared and used. Privacy does not mean the ability to keep it secret, it is just a structured of defined rules that enforces how that information is collected, shared, and used.

It is not feasible or realistic to the think that in cloud security that your information will remain secret, and if it does, it will not remain secret for long. Eventually someone or an entity will get their hands on it for completely public or private reasons. Information can be compiled from mobile devices. Such as where you are, what you bought, the places you frequent, and the actions you complete while using cloud computing applications. This often happens without consumer or user consent and in ways that one would never expect or want. When factoring in big data ethics, one needs to consider the transparency of how that information can and will be used for a variety of purposes.

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Alex Espenson is a recently retired business owner turned consultant, with a passion for entrepreneurism and marketing. When he isn't writing or consulting, you can usually find him out on the river with his fly rod, or hiking in the hills near his home in Boulder Colorado.

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