Big data pitches the EU against US government and corporates

The benefits of big data are being squashed under a steamroller of short-term corporate interests and the privacy abuses of security infrastructure, argues Joe McNamee.

Joe McNamee, is the executive director of European Digital Rights (EDRi), an NGO that campaigns for civil rights in the digital environment.

“What legal framework should be implemented when companies and governments increasingly know more about individuals than they know about themselves? This is the stark – and vastly underestimated – question that is facing European policy-makers in the reform of the data protection framework.

Cambridge University carried out a study on a comparatively small number (58,000) of volunteers and looked at a narrow range of online activity (clicks on Facebook “like” buttons). They discovered that it was possible to build reasonably accurate profiles, guessing the gender, sexual orientation, political orientation, substance abuse and, remarkably, the relationship status of the individual’s parents. Adapted from


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