big data | June 10, 2013

Justin Fox: "What Are the Rules of the Game For the Big Data Revolution?"

Corporations and governments are playing games with our data, but nobody's defined the rules. Economics speaker Justin Fox recently weighed in on the National Security Agency controversy in a post for The Harvard Business Review. The blog title describes his stance on the issue: "The Problem Is the Oversight, Not the NSA's Data Gathering." The government isn't the only organization collecting vast quantities of data from people using the internet. Big companies like Google and Facebook use the same kinds of big data to glean insights on consumer behaviors and target ads to users. Fox admits that, "Yes, the availability of all this data about how we communicate, what we buy, and how we do our jobs may feel a little disconcerting, or creepy." However, he argues that the truly disconcerting element is the lack of governance over how this data is used.

"The issue really isn't whether companies or governments should partake of these data riches — of course they should," he writes. "What is an issue is how the data is gathered and used. What are the rules of the game for the big data revolution?" Some feel that this surveillance is an intrusion of privacy. On the other hand, big data collection also serves many beneficial purposes for consumers. In the case of the NSA, Fox lightheartedly adds that big data might also "help catch a terrorist here or there." With better regulation, the The Myth of the Rational Market author says that the pros of big data collection could outweigh that creepiness factor. In his insightful writing and thought-provoking keynotes, Fox finds the pulse of key issue in economics, technology, finance, and international business. His speeches draw unique and useful parallels between these events and our daily lives.