Big Abuse and reservations

Wrapping up our Big Data Week, in this post we talk about potential of abuse of Big Data, which is arguably extreme.

This is a final post of our Big Data Week, launched exactly a week ago. Previous posts of the series are listed below:

  1. What’s So Big About Big Data
  2. Big Deal: When Machines Know Better
  3. Big Data vs. Big Fraud
  4. Big Security: The Larger Canvas
  5. In The Age Of Big Data Risks Are Big Too

The last thing we’ll talk about here is, well, security from Big Data. There is an increasing number of publications where authors cover questionable ways of using Big Data. Most of them are related to violation of privacy, of course, which is a hot topic more than ever these days. But it’s not about privacy alone.


As shown in the first post, Big Data analytics results may indeed be potentially (ab)used for malicious purposes while attacking a business; amounts of the potential loss of data may lead to a disaster as well. Besides, top-notch cybercriminals are reading the same books as the white-hat security experts, and if they find a way to avoid security systems relying on Big Data, for instance, they will do it. The question here, actually, is rather not “if” but “when”: how soon is now.

While privacy is the foremost concern for most of the critics, Jamal Khawaja of Dataconomy points out that essentially Big Data “…is an endless sea of information that can be used for the forces of good or the forces of evil.” 

In essence it is all about people and how they use Big Data analytics, for what purposes – and how they protect the information they get from it. There is no reason to see Big Data as a panacea for anything. It’s a tool. A new and a large-scale multitool, usable for a lot of things, but, regardless, it’s rather a Swiss Army knife (which, by the way, requires at least some maintenance, especially in harsh conditions), and never a Sauron’s One Ring.

Going back to the beginning, “Person of Interest” series’ main character Harold Finch has intentionally put brick-wall limits on what information his Machine would yield to the interested parties: no matter how much data is crunched it puts out only a Social Security Number of a person with an anomaly associated. Then it is down (or up) to humans to figure out, who is this “person of interest” – a victim, a perpetrator or an individual “relevant to the national security” (i.e. a potential terrorist or an act of terror’s victim). Finch believed that only humans may decide the other human’s fate, no matter what kind of data Machine provided on him or her, and in what amounts. 

It’s quite symbolical that the premise of the series’ primary antagonist is directly the opposite.

P.S. Tell us what you think! We’re truly eager to hear your opinions on this matter.

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