Big Data, mathematics and digital sensors
The massive use of data bases for commercial or any other purpose, commonly known as Big Data, is increasingly becoming a major component of the strategies employed by businesses, particularly those aimed at the general public. While this is neither good nor bad in itself, the use made of the data is of concern, particularly in the case of personal data which is protected by the Constitution.
What is evident, however is that the legal and social implications of this new science applied to business marketing extend well beyond the mere use of the databases.
The Cartesian view of Esteban Moro, a mathematician from Carlos III University Madrid, speaking at a recent conference organised by the Foundation for Research into Law and Businesses (FIDE), helps to explain the extent of the Big Data phenomenon with greater clarity: “In the digital era, nothing is thrown away. The information is perennial and everybody is the result of a specifically generated algorithm based on their actions and transmitted through sensors”. We are all loaded down with digital sensors: credit card (the most reliable information), cell phone, etc.
Social networks are no longer simply a way for people to communicate, they have become advertising and data processing programmes where “you are the business”. There is already one in Twitter that analyses conversational contexts, and not only is it able to map relations between every user or groups of users, which they find extremely valuable, as does their competition, but it is also able to discern private addresses.
Given this mathematical basis and the invasive digital reality we are currently experiencing, the obvious question arising at the FIDE event (among other issues) was what happens to privacy? On this aspect the mathematical theory of Big Data applied to social sciences as explained by Professor Moro reveals a fact demonstrated in all the research in this field, namely “privacy is inversely proportional to the value of the data”.
Assignment of personal data is intrinsic to the more or less conscious use that we make of sensors. That is, it is a question of education (like almost all issues) in which it is important to read the small print extremely carefully in any conditions of use for applications, networks, digital forms, e-business etc.
Director of Communications Garrigues