An on the individuals’ previous purchase behaviors, which

An Introduction of Big Data PrivacyThe appearance of computers has promoted thedigitalization of information.

For example, many paper materials which beforewere not convenient to store, analyze, and share are digitalized now. With the increasingamount of data, there is an urgent need to convert this data into usefulknowledge and reveal its potential values. Therefore, the big data analysiscomes up at this historic moment. Big data is the technology that analyzes and doesinductive reasoning from a vast amount of data, which can produce potentialvalues to help decision-makers adjust strategies, reduce risks, and make theright decision. For example, online shopping websites can send information aboutproducts to individuals by email or floating advertisements based on theindividuals’ previous purchase behaviors, which can increase sales. However,private information is threatened in the process of big data analysis becausemost of the data comes from people’sactivities on the internet. This includes users’ browsing histories, shoppingrecords, social network information, and comments.

This data not only has its surfaceinformation but also can produce commercial values by predictive analysis.Duhigg (2012) wrote a story in The NewYork Times in 2012 about a father who went to a Target store and complainedthat his daughter had received some baby products and clothes for pregnant women.This means Target got the information that his daughter became pregnant basedon predictive analysis. Target analyzed 25 items of personal shopping andgenerated a “pregnancy prediction” conclusion. This news called people’sattention to the big data privacy issue. People realized that their personalinformation is not safe in the big data environment.

In addition, personalinformation, such as name, email address or phone numbers can be sold andshared as products on the internet without much control or limits, which leadsto many cybercrimes. For example, criminals can use this sensitive informationto hack into users’ online account. According to an August 2017 survey in theUnited States, 32% of internet users had had their online account hackedbefore; as of August 2015, 70% of respondents of a worldwide survey stated thatthey were concerned that their personal information could be stolen (Gordon,n.d.). Therefore, privacy protection is a great and pressing challenge facingthe era of big data, and people should pay more attention to privacy disclosureand privacy protection. The Social Concernsof Big Data Privacy Disclosure and Protection Are Not HighWith the digitalization of information, big data analysishas become the mainstream approach to guiding commercial development andmarketing decision making. For example, Google analyzes users’ habits andhobbies through its big data system to help advertisers evaluate campaignefficiency, which can estimate there may be up to hundreds of billions ofdollars in the market size in the future.

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Another example of how big dataanalysis can guide commercial development is that data scientists can predictthe future stock prices based on analysis of data provided by social mediaservices, such as Twitter, Facebook, and so on. Therefore, big data analysiscan produce huge commercial values.However, people are enjoying the benefits of big dataanalysis while ignoring the importance of privacy protection and the harm ofprivacy disclosure brought in by big data. There are a few concerns, actions andstrategies, such as mature technologies, legal provisions, or industrystandards, to protect personal information which can be used for big data analysis. For example, Strang(2016) noted that from 13 dominant topics which captured 49% of the big dataproduction in journals between 2011 to 2016, “privacy and security topicsaccounted for only 2% and this trend recently dropped to less than 1%” (p.4305). However, personal information is a part of individual’s property.

Floridi claimed that “each person’s right tobodily security and property” (2005, p.193) should be protected and respected.People have the right to know when, what, and how their personal information isused. People also have the right to allow or reject a third party to use theirpersonal information.   Privacy Disclosure is Easy in the era of Big DataIn the big data environment, personal privacy disclosurebecomes much easier. The Internet has become a part of people’s lives and peoplecan leave a lot of personal information while visiting different kinds ofwebsites.

Moreover, people are always exposed to the “third eye”. Some shoppingwebsites, such as eBay, Amazon, and Taobao, are watching people’s shoppinghabits. Google, Bing, and Baidu are monitoring people’s searching content. Corporationsand governments spy on people’s social networks by monitoring WeChat, Facebook,phone numbers, and other communication tools. Even though President Obamaclaimed that the government is “not listening to your phone calls or readingyour emails,” this claim obviously ducks the question of whether the governmentis storing this information. A lot of monitoring systems are monitoringpeople’s E-mail, chat records, surfing records and such. Flash-cookies also canreveal people’s habits and position information by tracking people’s personalinformation online (Soltani, 2010).

Therefore, personal privacy is easy to be disclosedin the big data environment.Privacy disclosure comes from inside and outside of enterprises.Smith, Milberg, and Burke (1996) noted that inside of enterprises, personalinformation can be leaked in the process of handling data. They claimed thatthere are four relevant data dimensions which can lead information leakage:information collection, information misuse, secondary usage of information, andunauthorized access to information. Also, Smith, Dinew,and Xu (2011) noted that the people who worked inside of the company can accessdata, publish data, or steal data without authorization, then sell or share thepersonal data to some third parties, such as financial institutions orgovernment agencies. Outside of enterprises, in order to obtain personalinformation, some people use systems’ loopholes to steal data, such as hackingpeople’s online accounts by some back doors of the system. At the same time, researchers also found that thefinancial incentive compensation can encourage people to release more personalinformation (Xu, Teo, Tan & Agarwal, 2009).Similarly, if people want to get more customized services, they are required toprovide more detailed personal information, such asreal name, address, phone numbers, or social security numbers.

Therefore,privacy disclosure is difficult to avoid in the big data environment. Notonly do the enterprises have the responsibility to protect the privacy, but itis the individuals who have the responsibility to protect their personalinformation.The challenges of Big Data Privacy Protection Given that the information digitalization isso prevalent today, the big data privacy protection faces many challenges. Oneof these challenges is that it is difficult to define and differentiate which informationis private and which information is public in digital society. Just as Mai(2016) noted, “in contemporary networked digitalinformation society, people sit in their private homes, connected to apublic network, communicating with private friends, using public wires, exchangingprivate information, stored on public servers. In such a society, thedistinction between public and private surely becomes blurred” (p. 196). Since people heavily rely on the internet to doactivities every day, it is difficult to completely isolate oneself fromdigital society.

Therefore, the blurring of private and public information willremain a challenge. The second challenge is the scope of theprotection of personal privacy is difficult to determine. First, the concept ofprivacy is changing with the development of information technologies. Forexample, before the advent of big data technologies, personal information, suchas email address and phone numbers, did not threaten people’s privacy becausethey are unlikely to be retrieved on the Internet, but now, the leakage of phonenumbers can lead to telecom fraud. At the same time, giventhe different characteristics and backgrounds of different people, it isdifficult to define which data is sensitive for privacy protection. For example, for public figures, such as political officialsor media superstars, personal information like residential address is moresensitive than for the typical person due to the great general interest thesefamous people’s private lives.

Thus, whatis private sensitive information for one person might not be for the next.Another challenge is that acts of privacy violation and theviolators themselves can be difficult to identify. For example, the use ofpseudonyms online can make it difficult for victims to collect evidence andidentify the infringer.

Moreover, the web page is always in update,which makes it difficult to keep the evidence. Even if the victims obtain the evidenceby means of “web page backup”, it is hard for these backups to playan effectiveness of evidence as long as the infringers do not confess a crime. Furthermore,the methods of personal privacy violation are complex and diverse and canoutpace the ability of lawmakers to describe them, so it can be hard to definewhether a behavior is an infringement ornot according to the present law. For example, Google can scan andelectronically read people’s Gmail, but there is no law to determine suchactivities violate people’s privacy.

Thus, it is difficult to both identifywhether a crime has been committed as well as who exactly committed the crime. In conclusion, along with the benefits of big data, people facenew dangers related to violations of personal privacy. However, the government, enterprises, and individuals pay little attentionto the issue of big data privacy disclosure.

This has ledto crimes involving leaked personal information. Therefore, big data privacy protection is an urgent and pressing issuefacing in the era of big data. Society must learn how to segregate private information frompublic information, define the scope of big data privacy protection, andidentify the privacy violations and violators. The difficulties of theseremaining challenges mean that big data privacy protection still has a long wayto go.      

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