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Tuesday, 30th July 2013

Big Data, Big Issues? Is Australian Privacy Law Keeping Up?

Source: DLA Piper

Following the recent amendments to the Privacy Act and in anticipation of his new powers from 12 March 2014, the Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim (Commissioner) advised Australians earlier this year that "2013 is shaping up to be the biggest year for privacy in over 20 years".

Even though the recent amendments to the Privacy Act and the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) do not specifically address the Big Data technology/regulation gap, discussions by and between business, individuals, the media and even the Commissioner about Big Data have recently sparked up....

Analysis of Big Data can be (and is) used to reduce fraud, map disease outbreaks, further scientific research, improve business processes and assist in creating new innovative and wanted products. However, there is also a perceived "dark side" to Big Data, especially where such is considered to be an interference with privacy (whether we know it or not).

The extensive amounts of personal information we reveal as we transact online has taken the relationship between customer profiling, predicting trends and marketing to a whole other level. Big Data is capable of tracking movements, behaviours, preferences and predicting the behaviour of individuals with unprecedented accuracy. The more access business has to Big Data the better they can target us with advertising and products that match (or rather predict) our specific interests. This is, however, often done without our consent.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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