To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World by Mosco Vincent

To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World by Mosco Vincent

Author:Mosco, Vincent [Mosco, Vincent]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
ISBN: 9781317250371
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Published: 2015-11-16T16:00:00+00:00

Privacy and Security

Privacy and security concerns are coming together to form another question mark over the IT industry, including cloud computing and big data. In order to properly assess these concerns, it is useful to begin by considering different ways to think about privacy and security. At the risk of some simplification, consider three alternatives that range from weak to strong privacy protections. Starting at the weak end, one can view privacy and security as tradable commodities. We believe in the right to be left alone and to feel secure but are willing to give up some of the protections afforded in order to achieve other goals. This increasingly includes the decision to trade some of our privacy and security to live in the cloud by posting on Facebook or Twitter and downloading videos from Apple’s iCloud. For the ability to do these things, we risk losing some of our identity to hackers or giving up information about ourselves, including the content of our postings or the profile established by our purchases, to the companies that provide the service, as well as to outside parties that purchase information about us from Facebook, Twitter, and Apple. Sometimes the deal with a cloud provider is not clear. I know a person who, after letting her Facebook friends know about a serious illness, began receiving ads for “bucket lists.” Of course, she wasn’t looking for a bucket list when she gave up some of her privacy in order to let friends know about her health issue. Nor was the person who started receiving ads for multiple sclerosis support services after doing an online search of sites devoted to the condition (Singer 2013). The outcome is not always this offensive, but it can also be worse, as when innocent online searches for pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit from six members of a terrorism task force, who, we soon learned, regularly check on people whose use of the Internet provokes suspicion (Bump 2013). Whether the deal is clear or not, in this first view, privacy and security are among the several things we desire, and we make choices about them in the context of other things we want.

In the middle of the continuum, privacy and security are no longer tradable commodities; rather, they are untradable values that define a citizen’s right to be left alone and secure from violations. From this perspective, there is no trade-off in money, services, or goods because privacy and security are not commodities. Rather they are rights to freedom from identity loss and from physical or mental violation. Seen from this point of view, law and custom should protect the right to be left alone, which cannot be taken away without violating a right of citizenship and therefore cannot be traded for money, goods, or services. When Google, Amazon, or Microsoft tracks us, we lose some of our privacy. What we appear to get in return is actually unrelated to privacy. It is a service provided by the company for which we might or might not pay.


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