In his recent remarks on the NSA and surveillance, President Barack Obama grabbed the Big Data bull by the horns. We commend the president’s decision to task the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders to examine the challenges inherent in Big Data. Government surveillance raises distinct civil liberties concerns that commercial and scientific use of Big Data does not; still, it is appropriate to address the profound impact of new technologies on Big Data business opportunities.
Big Data was all the rage in privacy circles in 2013, and now it is achieving appropriate broad policy attention. It implicates modern day dilemmas, which transcend privacy and impact a variety of delicate balancing acts at the core of free market democracy. The examination requires engagement not only by privacy professionals but also by ethicists, scientists and philosophers to address what may very well be the biggest public policy challenge of our time.