The headache of 'big data'  

Mahmudur Rahman   | Published: June 03, 2018 22:20:10 | Updated: June 04, 2018 21:13:02


Marc Zuckerberg looked emotionless as he sat before the US Congress to reveal that for all of the reassuring intent, individual privacy had been irreversibly compromised. In the same breadth the murmured prophesies of the doubting Toms suddenly turned out true. The two buzzwords of the technological era -- Big Data and the Internet of Things -- have become migraine's for which there really isn't a cure.

Mr. Zuckerberg's admission that Facebook would have to come up with better security checks and balances sent industry analysts, operatives and regulators in a tizzy to devise prevention and cure remedies. The Europeans were first out of the blocks. Adding to the mayhem General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that kicked in on May 26 is causing data traffic of its own. Every listed email service that consumers have wittingly or otherwise signed up to is bombarding us seeking renewed permission to continue communicating.

The human mind is a computer but it too has its limitations, the recall button being forefront. In the growing pile of pending email an individual fraught with the delightful human fragility, doesn't react like a machine attending to each communication. The usual tendency is to put it aside and then forget about it. That's the yawning loophole platforms look for. Silence tantamounts to acquiescence whereas in this case it really should have been the opposite

There is no standard message in these permission renewal mail. Some say if there's no response it will be business as usual. Others require an affirmation of sorts without which services are terminated. This simple dichotomy reflects that knee-jerk regulation can be faulty.

Mr. Zuckerberg's glib comment that assurances had been starkly false: that no data is protected and stored somewhere in some obscure server or indeed the cloud comes after the sensational discovery that millions, perhaps billions of people's data have been shared without their consent. The risk multiplies when a simple click allows platforms to share data with sponsors and advertisers. It explains clearly how and why when the simple act of reading an article on the internet causes offers to pop up; offers that pertain to a recent search. Time will tell if all data from before May 26 is deleted or whether the caveat of 'retaining only data that is essential' is qualified and agreed with regulators. Amidst the inevitable fake messages and emails from ghost protocols, the individual has a long haul ahead to sift through the maze of detail.

Bangladesh Telecommunicaton Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has to double-up its act. There are implications for GDRP for platforms generating from Bangladesh and targeted to Europeans. Traffic outflow from the US isn't governed to cover the present circumstances by a revision to their privacy laws. Bangladesh already had too many holes to begin with. At some stage the courts will come into play as aggrieved individuals and organisations begin to feel the pinch of revealed data. It's time to get the talent we talk about so much to devise policies and means to protect data. The consequences of connected sharing of data isn't just ominous, it can be fearful. Mr. Zuckerberg is being accused of weaponising data. The prospects of a world data war cannot be too far away.

mahmudrahman@gmail.com

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