News: The EU intends to maximise growth and competitiveness by exploiting big data. But the Digital Single Market cannot uncritically import the data-driven technologies and businessmodels which have become economic mainstream in other areas of the world. Instead it needs to show leadership in developing accountable personal data processing. The internet has evolved in a way that surveillance – tracking people’s behaviour – is considered as the indispensable revenue model for some of the most successful companies. This development calls for critical assessment and search for other options.
We have to avoid building ‘data dictatorships’ where big data is used to predict a child’s performance at school or an adult’s susceptibility to illness or premature death, to default on credit or commit crime, says EDPS. A data dictator ship can also have a chilling effect on creativity and innovation. With big data analytics, there is a tendency to discourage or penalise spontaneity, experimentation or deviation from the statistical ‘norm’, and to reward conformist behaviour.
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) believes that responsible and sustainable development of big data must rely on four essential elements:
• organisations must be much more transparent about how they process personal data;
• afford users a higher degree of control over how their data is used;
• design user friendly data protection into their products and services; and
• become more accountable for what they do.