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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 22 January 2013

'Privacy concerns over big data'


The huge increases in computing power that have been occurring over the last six decades are constantly being absorbed in new and different ways.

One of the latest phrases to drop into public circulation - a phrase that reflects a new way of using computers - is "big data".

The Today programme's science correspondent, Tom Fielden, explained: "There are two key elements to big data. The first is volume, the truly massive amount of data from multiple sources that a new generation of computer programmes can handle.

"The second is a step change in the sophistication of processing programs that can crunch all this data and tease out the subtle patterns."

With regard to privacy concerns, Dr Shirley-Ann Jackson, an adviser to President Obama on big data, said: "I think any technological development sits on a knife edge.

"Corporations are already beginning to use data about their customers to be able to target what they sell in a better way. I don't view that as being malicious, I just think it's a new way of doing business. Corporations have always wanted to understand their customers.

"There are many concerns about privacy considerations, people, corporations, entities knowing so much about where we go and what we do."

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