One part of Big Data is a serious lack of control for users over data about them.
In his opening keynote at IP Expo in London, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that there is always a theory that people are being spied on and “a lot of the model of Big Data is a threat”.
He said: “If people find out how to target you with an advert you start to feel queasy and if it is nothing to do with where you are and websites do targeted advertising, it is not future of the world as the data they have is not valuable to you as a person.”
Berners-Lee went on to say that data from wearable technology, from medical and social networks can give a computer “a really good view of my life”, and that information is useful, but he said he would like to build a world where he could control his data and if he chose to sell it, he could but “importantly I have control and have legal ownership of it”.
Berners-Lee said that the new world is about data being transparent, and some can be public, some can be personal, some can be managed “in a very controlled way”.
He went on to say that the idea that privacy is dead is “hopeless and sad”, and that we need to build systems that allow privacy and allow for data to be locked down, and it is not easily accessed. However in exceptional circumstances, such as in a road accident where his medical data needs to be accessed it should be, but he said “I don’t want it to be used to sell me insurance”
“We need to build systems where access is possible and the idea we had is we turn tracking around on people who use your data and we know it happened as it was tracked,” he said.
“Why not build accountable systems to build privacy? Anyone’s data can be used and they have got your records because you signed up for it.”
He said that Big Data “has a lot to be desired” as it wields so much power that we need to move on to a new world with new systems, new attitudes and new ways of working socially.