In popular imagination, big data can apparently do everything and anything. Its evangelists would suggest data holds near magical potential to change the world, while skeptics increasingly worry that it poses the biggest civil rights threat of our generation. Even if reality likely falls somewhere in between, there is little question that the advent of big data has altered our conversations about privacy. Privacy has been in tension with technological advances since Louis Brandeis worried that “recent inventions and business methods”— such as the widespread availability of the Kodak camera to consumers — necessitated a “right to be let alone.” Yet the phenomenon of big data, alongside the emerging “Internet of Things,” makes it ever more difficult to be left entirely alone. The ubiquitous collection and unparalleled use of personal information is breaking down some of society’s most common conceptions of privacy. Law and policy appear on the verge of redefining how they understand privacy, and data collectors and privacy advocates are trying to present a path forward.
In Big Data: Catalyst for a Privacy Change, Joseph Jerome discusses the rise of big data and the role of privacy in both the Fourth Amendment and consumer contexts, and argues that the future of privacy will have the be built upon a foundation of trust.