Review : Ethics of Big Data

18 Oct

Ethics of Big Data Cover

Book Facts

Ethics of Big Data : Balancing Risk and Innovation
By Kord Davis
O’Reilly Media


I have yet to find a person who actually reads the privacy policies across various sites. I don’t know if it’s because of the legal language, if people just don’t care about how data is handled, or if it’s because we don’t think we’ll be abused by the companies we sign up for.

Even so, the very existence of a privacy policy suggests how things have really changed around the world, especially considering the pervasiveness of the Internet.

Now, I could tell you all about these varied changes, but that would take too many posts. So for this review, I’d like to focus on big data, one of the more significant reasons for why privacy policies abound. 

Big data is a relatively new term, but it basically refers to the volume of information which now exists worldwide. This information is of various types, originating from individuals and spreading out across the services we use.

From an ethical standpoint, big data is inherently neutral, carrying no label of right and wrong, good and bad. Like all technologies, the eventual utilization and effect of big data rests with those who have access to it.

And that, readers, is why this book happens to be extremely significant.

Aside from providing you the basic concepts behind the emergence of big data, it also offers a rather good look into the way data is handled on the Web, along with the associated risks carried by such a large amount of information.

Furthermore, the book also serves as a good call-to-action, prompting companies to set values, and to adhere in the face of decision points about user data.

Personally, I believe this setting and adherence process is especially important.

After all, everyone is made more secure when companies divulge their values, and make their data policies conform to such standards. Moreover, as reiterated in the work, transparency and clear policies are good drivers of customer loyalty and brand value.

All that said, I’m not trying to imply that selecting and sticking to ethical standards is easy. The heavens only know how hard that can be sometimes, especially considering the harsh realities which many have to deal with.

Despite that though, I think we have no excuse not to be ethical, either as individual or as organizations. It’s certainly difficult, but it’s necessary.

Because now, the truth is undeniable. We are already living in the age of big data.

With that comes the possibility of big benefits for companies, or for anyone who has access to such large amounts of information. If those with access don’t learn to balance personal benefit with greater good, then I fear the scales may tip the wrong way.

And when that happens, the consequences may be disastrous for those affected.

Of course, no one wants that, right?

Where to Buy

O’Reilly Media Catalog for Ethics of Big Data


In the interest of Federal Trade Commission guidelines and covering my legal bases, I got this book free of charge via my involvement in the O’Reilly Media Blogger Review Program. That said, this review is entirely my opinion, after my reading of the book. I would also like to assure everyone that I was not paid to give any particular rating to the work, and that my rating is my personal choice.

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