Background on Big Data and Privacy
We are living in 2020 —— the age of big data.
As the volume, velocity, variety, veracity and value of big data increases exponentially, we have witnessed the substantial applications of big data in practice.
Here is the definition of Big Data according to Oracle:
What Is Big Data?
What is big data? Gain a comprehensive overview. Learn about the definition and history, in addition to big data…
In this era of the Internet of Things, data is the basis of almost everything
For example, today, WeChat(a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent) already has more than 900 million independent device users every month.
Similarly, Google’s monthly activities have already exceeded 2 billion, and Facebook’s monthly activities are approaching 2 billion as well, which is equivalent to nearly 30% of the world’s population!
Take Google, for example, there are as many as 7 products with Google’s monthly activities exceeding 1 billion: Gmail, Google Search, Google Chrome, Google Play Apps, YouTube, Android, and Google maps. Such shocking data support the market value of Google as high as 670 billion dollars, which is almost double that of Tencent in China.
Just because of this such a large user base, with its various applications, make Google obtain a much higher skill for the customization of users than any other platforms. By using Google search, you might notice that there are fewer ads, but once there is one, the clicks for that ad is particularly high, that is because these ads are based on all the aspects of your personal “portrait” calculated by Google.
So this also means that as soon as you start searching, Google is tracking your personal information. Gmail can scan your daily social activity and work content, the browser can find your personal preferences, Google Maps can track where you’ve been, and Android, of course, knows where you are and what you are doing online.
However, with such intellectual technologies, Google still cannot guarantee the security of every single user’s data.
Therefore, privacy and security issue has always been a critical problem in the world of big data.
So, what is Data Privacy? And why does it matter?
What is Privacy
What does privacy mean? Well, it depends on who you ask. Broadly speaking, privacy is the right to be let alone, or…
Since we are talking about privacy in big data, according to IAPP (the world’s largest global information privacy community), privacy is focused on the use and management of personal data, such as: putting policies to collect consumer’s information, making sure those data are used in an appropriate way.
How about Data Security? Is it the same as Data Privacy?
The answer is: No. Data security is focused more on the protection and regulation of data, preventing intentional attacks from hackers, and securing personal information.
After we have some understanding of Big Data and Privacy, we can talk about the issue that we are facing in the world with the exponential growth of technologies and artificial intelligence.
There are cases that hackers get access to your personal information through your social media (photos, videos, snaps, and other clues)
Many people like to post selfies and photos of their lives on social media. For you, it’s just an everyday photo. For hackers, it’s easy to analyze the time of taking the photo, the camera or phone model, and the location of the photo with tolls that don’t even require any technical skills.
Furthermore, for some hackers with bad purposes, after obtaining certain personal information about you, they can also analyze your preferences, financial status, close friends, places you frequently visit, habits, and etc. with the help of the pictures and videos you post on social media, thereby committing theft or fraud.
In today’s society, data is based on the collection of events, and privacy is the key to the collection of events.
There are a lot of people who seek to minimize their online footprint in order to reduce their data production. By doing this, they believe that they can stay in a relatively safe and private zone.
However, the production of data is happening almost every second everywhere since the emergence of the Internet of Things.
Data privacy usually contains four important elements: Who, When, Where, and What.
If we can remove the personal data in a certain place, we are protecting one’s location privacy.
If we can erase the personal information, such as: date of birth, name, and etc., we are protecting one’s identity privacy.
If we can remove the online footprint in a certain period of time, we are protecting one’s activity privacy.
In fact, that’s what many people do in the real world as well.
As we know, many celebrities will wear face masks, hats, and sunglasses to avoid unwanted attention from people and paparazzi. From the perspective of data privacy, they are protecting their identity and activity as well.
Even so, if you only restrict yourself to exclude certain elements (for example, identity), the correlation analysis of data can still easily reveal your original information.
Many people’s information gets stolen because they use the same password on different websites, but once the information on a certain website is compromised, hackers can get all the information of that person, even their payment and billing info.
Therefore, it will be costly in both time and money to protect all four elements(Who, What, Where, and When) on the internet. For most of us, the concern about privacy is not really about whether the technology is well-developed or not, but about the unknown risk of losing control of our information.
So, what is to be done?
Become the “owner” of your data and privacy
To overcome the concern of losing data control and privacy, what must individuals be doing?
I will offer some practical advice about how to take control of our data and information.
- Do not use your real information on unverified websites.
- Try to use different passwords for different websites, if you can’t remember all the passwords, you can try to distinguish them by categories, for instance, different passwords for bank accounts, emails, social media accounts, etc.
- Do not sign up for too many personal notifications on social media.
- Be careful on all the agreements that relate to your personal information/data, do not provide everything they asked for.
- Keep tabs on suspicious activity and get an early detection by installing security apps on your devices.
- Control the Access to your social media accounts.
- Pay Attention to risks: set passwords for all of your personal devices; always log out of your social media accounts after use; be aware of unknown links/emails.
- Always classify your database on your understanding — know who can access it.
- Store your information in the right place — know where it is and how secure it is.
At this point, we should understand that we can not stay in absolute private space. Data is being produced in every second around us. It is important to know how to take control of your own data and privacy.
We should not fear technology. Instead, we should all interested in things that changed the world that can affect the future.