Big Data: Government our protector or enemy?
With respect to big data the government has to deal with two parties with different interest. On the one hand they need to protect their civilians against misuse of data gathered about them. On the other hand they need to stimulate the economic growth and enable companies to use big data tools in order to make their companies grow.
But what does the Dutch government do in order to protect their civilians against misuse of data? Companies are allowed to make predictions about their customers using big data. But the base principle is that everyone should have access to the same products/services according to the government. This means that companies are not allowed to segment on race, religion, gender or nationality (Kamp, 2014). The Dutch government states that this is not allowed, but what are these women clothing ads doing on my Facebook page?! They obviously know what my gender is and adjust their ads based on this information. Next to this there is a big law package that should protect us as civilians against the misuse of big data. But how are they going to enforce these laws with such a huge amount of data created everyday in our internet-based society?
In mister Kamp’s letter the focus is on protection of civilians. But in the introduction he talks about stimulating SME’s to acquire tools in order to process big data (Kamp, 2014). Overall this letter comes across as a shout out to all the companies: “Use big data, it is beneficial for your company!” But we are going to protect the civilians as well. But how? With some laws etc. etc. They don’t say a word about how they can guarantee us, as civilians, that these lines are not crossed.
Personally I think that the government should protect its civilians by focussing on big data legislation and law enforcement. I would like to know how they are checking big data use at companies and if it is in line with the countries laws. What do you think the government’s role should be in the big data topic? Should they focus on economic growth or protecting their civilians? And my biggest concern; how are they going to enforce these laws?
Kamp, H. (2014). Kamerbrief big data en profilering in de private sector. The Hague: Department of Economic Affairs.