Has Big Data Made Anonymity Impossible?

what.is_.personal.data2x519In 1995, the European Union introduced privacy legislation that defined “personal data” as any information that could identify a person, directly or indirectly. The legislators were apparently thinking of things like documents with an identification number, and they wanted them protected just as if they carried your name.

Today, that definition encompasses far more information than those European legislators could ever have imagined—easily more than all the bits and bytes in the entire world when they wrote their law 18 years ago.

Here’s what happened. First, the amount of data created each year has grown exponentially: it reached 2.8 zettabytes in 2012, a number that’s as gigantic as it sounds, and will double again by 2015, according to the consultancy IDC. Of that, about three-quarters is generated by individuals as they create and move digital files. A typical American office worker produces 1.8 million megabytes of data each year. That is about 5,000 megabytes a day, including downloaded movies, Word files, e-mail, and the bits generated by computers as that information is moved along mobile networks or across the Internet.

Read the full article @ the MIT Technology Review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *