Ten to fifteen years ago, everyone had control over their privacy. If they chose not to share it, no one would be able to get it legally. However, in today’s society, peoples’ information is totally exposed under some strangers’ eyes. And they have rights to view all of your information! This is because of the growth of Big Data in the last decade.
Big Data is the term using to describe extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. When you are texting your friends, you are creating data; when you are shopping on Amazon, you are creating data. Whenever you go online, you are leaving information that businesses and organizations can analyze. All of those small pieces of data gather together like small streams flowing into a big ocean.
Big Data impacts our life greatly. Even technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence rely on Big Data, which helps them to develop and give people a more personalized experience. Remember those ads pop out on the website? Don’t you think they are always the things you have associated recently or are interested in? You are right! They are specifically for you. By analyzing Big Data, the computer can learn about your interest based on your recent activity: search history, the websites you open frequently, your locations, etc.
Big Data only developed in recent years because, though data always existed, engineers were not able to put all the data together and analyze them. Due to the spread and development of technology in recent years, engineers can gather more and more information and eventually analyze them. The amount of data is growing significantly fast. And problems with the rapid-growing data are quickly exposing themselves, too.
Big Data is like a lion, strong but dangerous. The security problem has always been a serious issue. Organizations are storing huge data sets which contain personal information about thousands of users. If organizations fail to establish a good security protection, data theft may have a chance to steal the customers’ information and sell it to other companies. Imagine you are one of the customers: everything you do online, all of your data, is easily sold like buying something in a convenience store. Everything about you, private or public, is put on a price and completely exposed under strangers’ eyes.
In the Big Data Era, everything can be tracked and analyzed. The conflict over it has become increasingly severe recently because people feel like their lives are under invisible cameras 24-7. They cannot choose not to use their phones and computers, but they also want to have some personal space. While Big Data provides tremendous convenience, it is also a ferocious beast, invading every aspect of our lives. The law has not kept up with the development of technologies and which type of data it collects. In the end, does your data belong to you or companies?
In fact, all of those concerns are already happening. In early 2018, a shocking political scandal that Cambridge Analytica used the illegitimate method to get Facebook users’ data to help Trump to win the 2016 election was an example of misusage of Big Data resulting in a huge negative effect on society. In August of 2018, a post on a Chinese dark web forum claimed to sell personal information of customers in the past five years from Huazhu Hotel Groups, which runs 3903 hotels in 384 cities of China. Approximate 130 million peoples’ ID number, phone number, email address, etc. will be sold for 8 bitcoins. There are more cases of people taking advantage of Big Data and practicing it in an immoral and illegal way.
Though Big Data is a huge factor that leads our society into a more advanced era, we still need to keep in mind the harmfulness that it will bring. We should have control of our own information. Our privacy must not be a product marked with a price tag.