Big Data – Big Brother is watching you

It has recently been published that China plans to rate its 1.4 billion citizens by 2020 and divide each of them according to its political leanings (their support of the government for example), their shopping history and their friends. in a program called  Social Credit Score ” China determines what is allowed for citizens to do and where they are placed on the table its ratings. Moreover, according to reports, the plan expected penalties for those who get low grades, such as limiting the exit from the country, slower internet, limited access to businesses and limiting the ability to engage in certain occupations.

This story sounded to many like the realization of the vision of George Orwell’s book 1984, but it happens in real life as you are reading these lines. It is very difficult to imagine life under this government pressure, and yet it turns out that found the companies in the field of Data that will help the Chinese government develop technologies and systems to support its plan.

At the same timeFacebook announced last March that it had reached $ 1.45 billion social network active users around the world, despite the bursting Cambridge analytics affair, followed by Mark Zuckerberg called in a hearing in the US Senate committee, and it’s still counting. We will also mention other giant bodies on the Internet such as GoogleInstagramTwitter and other information sharing applications that draw almost unlimited personal information about us. Everyone stores this information and uses it using sophisticated algorithms of Big Data to match content that interests us  content that ultimately affects what we buy, what we think, the opinions and inclinations in our hearts.

The fact that we are getting very specific advertisements about some very specials social network engine stems precisely from the use of these sophisticated Big Data, analyzing the areas of our interests and building an accurate consumer profile about us. Add to this the fact that these engines also know where we are based on mobile phonewe also get information about businesses that are close to us and can potentially interest us. Another example of the use of information collected from usin this case at the level of security organizations of countries, is the use of face recognition technologies by airports, for the purpose of locating and identifying the suspects entering the country. These technologies use sophisticated algorithms of artificial intelligence and Big Data. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

All this introduction does not come to convince you to refrain from taking part in activities in social networks. We live in a connected and online world. In today’s worldalong with the intrusion of privacy that takes place every daysocial networks have quite a few advantages that contribute value to us. However, in the case of a grading and labeling citizens of China, and the Cambridge case to some extent, cast a heavy shadow on the results of use and sharing information in a manner not regulated.

Some years ago, Google began to enforce new guidelines driven by commercial companies to install software on user’s computers and toolbars without the user’s knowledge, after it became clear that there is a danger of trading individual user information with partners, that could violate their privacy. Beyond that, the fact that companies share the details of usersreveals the same users to the devious acts of Cyber ​​criminals.

The regulation of the  European GDPRwhich took effect on the 25 of May this year is in this context a vital and welcome initiativewhich includes regulations for the protection of personal information of EU residents. It requires any organization within or outside the EU that may have personal information about EU residentsincluding organizations that market products and provide services to EU citizens. The penalties for breach of regulations can reach up to 4% of global annual turnover of the organization or 20 million Euro.

It is also important to address the moral and ethical significance of the need to protect privacy. In a connected world, where our information is stored and shared clouds and mobile devices, regulation may reduce a significant volume of information being exposed and thus to protect the privacy of users. Other powers outside of Europeand China the largest of themhave not yet joined these regulations  and the result of unregulated use of information is not late to arrive, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

Amit Gal, VP BI & Biz Dev