Big Data: A Benefit and Risk Analysis

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On September 11, 2014, FPF released a whitepaper we hope will help to  frame the big data conversation moving forward and promote better understanding of how big data can shape our lives. Big Data: A Benefit and Risk Analysis provides a practical guide for how benefits can be assessed in the future, but they also show how data is already is being used in the present.

Privacy professionals have become experts at evaluating risk, but moving forward with big data will require rigorous analysis of project benefits to go along with traditional privacy risk assessments. We believe companies or researchers need tools that can help evaluate the cases for the benefits of significant new data uses.  Big Data: A Benefit and Risk Analysis is intended to help companies assess the “raw value” of new uses of big data. Particularly as data projects involve the use of health information or location data, more detailed benefit analyses that clearly identify the beneficiaries of a data project, its size and scope, and that take into account the probability of success and evolving community standards are needed.   We hope this guide will be a helpful tool to ensure that projects go through a process of careful consideration.

Identifying both benefits and risks is a concept grounded in existing law. For example, the Federal Trade Commission weighs the benefits to consumers when evaluating whether business practices are unfair or not. Similarly, the European Article 29 Data Protection Working Party has applied a balancing test to evaluate legitimacy of data processing under the European Data Protection Directive. Big data promises to be a challenging balancing act.

Click here to read the full document: Big Data: A Benefit and Risk Analysis.