An update on Big Data and Privacy: a US and EU concern

This month, the Executive Office of the US President released the report “ BIG DATA: SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES, PRESERVING VALUES ” that focuses on how the public and private sectors can maximize...

Cristina Vela

Cristina Vela Marimon

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This month, the Executive Office of the US President released the report “BIG DATA: SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES, PRESERVING VALUES” that focuses on how the public and private sectors can maximize the benefits of big data while minimizing its risks to privacy and fundamental values. It also identifies opportunities for big data to grow the US economy, improve health and education, and make the US safer and more energy efficient.

The Report presents 6 Policy Recommendations:

  • Advance the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights
  • Pass national data breach legislation
  • Extend privacy protections to non-US persons
  • Ensure data collected on students in schools is used only for education purposes
  • Expand US Government’s Civil Rights and Consumer Protection Agencies to stop discrimination based on big data analytics
  • Amend e-communications Privacy Act (Congress should amend the e-communications Privacy Act to ensure the standard of protection for online, digital content is consistent with that in the physical world)

At the same time, the US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a second report, “BIG DATA AND PRIVACY: A TECHNOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE”. Both studies respond to a request made by President Obama on 17th January. In this report PCAST examines the nature of current technologies for managing and analyzing big data and for preserving privacy, it considers how those technologies are evolving, and it explains what the technological capabilities and trends imply for the design and enforcement of public policy intended to protect privacy in big-data contexts.

In parallel, the European Commission is also preparing a Strategy on Big Data to be adopted by the summer. The Commission wants to compare US and EU markets on Big Data and analyse the obstacles to the development of innovative services based on Big Data in the EU. The Commission’s Strategy responds to the mandate of the European Council (held on October 2013 and focused on Digital Agenda and Innovation), which called for “European action to establish the right conditions for a single market in Big Data and Cloud Computing”.

The intention of the European Commission is to create a “data ecosystem” in an organic way based in two pillars:

  • Creation of a community around a PPP as inclusive as possible
  • Conditions/vision of a regulatory nature (right framework on Privacy, Security, Privacy by Design, Secuirty by Design, ownership of data, transfer of data)
  • Skills (e.g. attract talents to EU)
  • Call on Member States to incentivize the Big Data market (e.g. public procurement)
  • Harmonisation of the Member States’ R&D agenda with the EC’s R&D agendaAddressing the framework conditions conducive to this ecosystem

In addition, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the Big Data Value Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), which aims to describe the main research challenges and needs for advancing Big Data Value in Europe in the next 5 to 10 years. We will follow it and keep you posted!


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