White House commended for "Big Data" report, but should have addressed commercial data surveillance complex
By: Jeff Chester | May 1 2014
The White House should be commended for reviewing issues related to “Big Data,” including acknowledging the discriminatory role this technology can play. However, the report failed to identify the commercial surveillance complex that has been put in place by Google, Facebook, and many other data-driven businesses. The White House report should have called for a national debate on whether the pervasive data collection, tracking and targeting system should be tolerated in the first place. Indeed, we are concerned that the report may give a green light to expanded data collection, where the principle is "collect first and worry about privacy and consumer protection later."
We are also disappointed that even though it has been more than two years since the White House announced support for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, the report further delays the release of a legislative proposal. Nor does the report acknowledge that the White House’s approach to consumer privacy--relying on lobbyist-dominated “stakeholder” meetings at the Commerce Department to develop “industry codes of conduct”--cannot be relied on to protect Americans.
The report is also aimed to reassure the EU public that their privacy will be protected. However, as the report makes clear that the U.S. does not have its own privacy house in order, the Europeans should indeed worry about their data being collected by U.S. companies.