Crime And Law Enforcement - Advancing Big Data While Protecting Privacy

Erin Carson, Lead Analyst Friday October 17th 2014

Since President Obama announced the Big Data initiative in 2012, federal agencies have invested millions of dollars in advancing ways to make discoveries from large amounts of data. However, as more and more data becomes available through the widespread use of online data and sensors in everyday objects linked through the “Internet of Things,” policymakers must address questions on the uncharted relationships between big data and personal privacy.

The Executive Office of the President issued a May 2014 report that noted that Americans’ relationships with data should “expand, not diminish, their opportunities and potential." Still, the report also warned that “big data innovations and applications will be pressed to ensure that the digital revolution works to both empower social good and protect fundamental values like privacy, fairness, and self-determination.” On September 15, a Big Data Workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission also raised concerns that the use of big data could have an unfair or discriminatory impact on some populations as industry users gather on credit, education, and other personal information. The policy question is how to regulate the patchwork quilt of open source data in a way that will both provide valuable information and still protect individual privacy rights.

One one side, some policymakers say that a one-size-fits-all approach to how big data is regulated would provide consistency. On the other side, industry and others say this approach would be burdensome. What’s clear is that the process will take time and iterations to get into place, and in the meantime, open data is largely up for grabs.

Anyone with an Internet connection and an e-mail account will want to tune in. The following seven bills were introduced during the 113th Congress and will likely surface again in 2015:

HR.1312 - Geolocational Privacy And Surveillance Act - HR.1312 - Geolocational Privacy And Surveillance Act – Otherwise known as the GPS Act, the bill would prevent anyone from intercepting GPS data on another person and disclosing that data, except in certain situations. The Senate companion bill is S.639 - Geolocational Privacy And Surveillance Act.

HR.1847 - Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act Of 2013 and the Senate companion S.607 - Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act Of 2013 would prevent a provider of remote computing service or electronic communication service to the public from knowingly divulging to any governmental entity the contents of any communication that is in electronic storage or otherwise maintained by the provider

HR.1852 - Email Privacy Act  - would prohibit a provider of a remote computing service or electronic communication service from intentionally giving any communication in its electronic storage to the government, except under certain conditions.

HR.3604 - Protecting Education Privacy Act – would prohibit the Department of Education from funding any education agency or institution that releases student educational records or any other personally identifiable information to any organization, agency, or individual without written consent from a parent.

S.1925 - Driver Privacy Act - would protect the privacy of drivers by defining ownership of the data collected by Event Data Recorders (EDR) to a vehicle owner or lessee.