The benefits of big data must not ride roughshod over the need for privacy and data protection, according to Europe’s privacy tsar.
Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection supervisor (EDPS), issued his opinion on big data in a report on Wednesday in which he raised concerns that not enough thought was being given to these issues.
“The evolution of big data has exposed gaps in EU competition, consumer protection and data protection policies that do not seem to have kept up with this development,” he said.
“Smarter interaction across these partially overlapping policy areas will support growth and innovation and minimise the potential harm to consumers. The EDPS is pleased to be facilitating discussions between regulators and experts in these fields."
Hustinx also said not enough is being done by the technology sector to develop tools to provide better security and privacy regarding the collection of data, despite the benefits this could offer.
“The market for privacy-enhancing services in the digital economy remains weak. While many consumers may be becoming more and more ‘tech savvy’, most appear unaware of or unconcerned by the degree of intrusiveness into their searches and emails as information on their online activities is logged, analysed and converted into revenue by service providers," he said.
"Thus far, relatively few companies in the digital economy have detected financial advantage in enhancing the privacy of their offerings."
The comments mark a different tone on big data from other industry voices at a European level. Last week European Commission digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes urged the continent to lead the 'gold rush' around this emerging area of technology.
Numerous businesses are hoping to cash in on the market too, with Dell this week buying StatSoft in order to boost its software offerings in this segment of the market.
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