crisis, europe, big data

Big Data – Introduction

This is the first article that will deal with the impact of Big Data. The connection between society and business cannot be seen in isolation. The ethical discussion that has erupted in society should also be conducted in business.

Benefits and dangers.

Large amounts of information about individuals and groups can further help society, business and government on issues such as climate, crime, social or economic challenges. On the other hand, collecting data also carries great risks. It can lead to discriminatory action, preventive action, create unwanted dependencies [system] or the data will end up in the wrong hands. [Identity theft]

Bellagio forum.

The Bellagio forum is a collaboration of experts from the technological sector, artistic, academics from various disciplines, etc. After an extensive study, they have designed a framework that focuses on 6 domains in the discussion about Big Data: Ethics, Governance, Science, Technology, Place and sociocultural context. The purpose of the framework is to provide governments, companies, social institutions and citizens with a framework within which the discussion about the collection, management and use of Big Data can be held.


The ability to absorb unexpected shocks and changes in a timely manner and return to the ‘normal’ situation. Resilience is often, alone, linked to business processes, infrastructure, but ignores the importance of, for example, availability of ethics and accountability.

In recent years, we have seen in both politics and business that ethical and responsible business practices are just as critical. Politicians whose actions were questionable or even punishable could clear the field and wreak havoc on their party. This also applies to companies such as the clothing industry involved in the scandals in Bangladesh. Consumers are increasingly weighing up the ethical behavior of companies and politicians. Those who ignore this will face a storm of criticism and a boycott of a product.

Big Data.

Big Data differs from the traditional forms of information recording in the sense that previously data recording served a specific purpose that had been formulated beforehand. In most cases, the information was also used only for that purpose. Only in recent years, with the increasing technological possibilities and the increasing availability of information [social media], Big Data has become a hot issue.

Now data is collected in huge quantities, opportunistic and used in multiple contexts. The data is usually also collected and recorded indefinitely without the knowledge of third parties. This shift in size, type of data and duration has resulted in a tight-knit view of the life and behavior of citizens, which is perceived as increasingly intrusive.

The data can be used in all kinds of prediction models such as purchasing behavior that companies can anticipate. Thus one penetrates deeper into the life [private] sphere of the individual. Several studies have already shown that with the use of metadata a person can be specifically identified. That is without a doubt an invasion of the private life of an individual. This also creates a legal context when collecting big data.

In such a context, we should therefore think more broadly and deeply about issues such as privacy and how people are ‘touched’ by big data projects. In the coming weeks I will go deeper into the six aspects that the Bellagio forum has provided.


Big Data, Communities and Ethical Resilience: A Framework for Action By 2013 Bellagio/PopTech Fellows Kate Crawford, Gustavo Faleiros, Amy Luers, Patrick Meier, Claudia Perlich and Jer Thorp. Draft Date: Oct. 24, 2013<