Big Data: Ethical Considerations
We live in the Information Age. Advances over the past 50 years in computing technology have enabled ever-expanding capacity to generate, store, transfer, process and analyse information about people, societies, products, services, the environment—nearly every aspect of the world. In parallel, concerns over how such data is being used have emerged, focusing especially on issues of privacy and confidentiality. Yet as technological capabilities continue to expand, the debate over ethical uses of data inevitably has evolved as well. Whereas we used to just talk about data, now there is great concern over Big Data. This chapter explores what, exactly, Big Data is; the ethical ramifications of its emergence, particularly for consent and anonymization; and what sorts of policy solutions are being proposed to address these emerging challenges. We will not defend one particular approach, but hope this chapter can be a useful reference for those who are contemplating difficult questions surrounding responsible management of Big Data.