Since former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden brought the agency’s secret spying programs to light, there has been much controversy and concern surrounding privacy.
“We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections our ideals and our Constitution require,” said President Obama in a speech addressing U.S. intelligence programs at the Department of Justice.
As a result, President Obama has asked senior advisor John Podesta to lead a comprehensive review of Big Data and privacy. Podesta’s group will look at how data collection and analysis are affecting everyday privacy.
Joining Podesta in the working group will be Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, presidential science adviser John Holdren, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and other senior government officials.
“We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used,” wrote Podesta in a White House blog. “The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy, and public policy.”
After the review is completed, the group expects to provide the president a report on future technological trends, and it will examine the vital questions collection, availability and the use of Big Data raise for the government and nation.
As part of the review, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will explore “in-depth the technological dimensions of the intersection of Big Data and privacy,” according to Podesta. The working group he is leading will work with civil liberties groups, technologists, international partners, privacy experts, and other national and local government officials to discuss the importance and future of those technologies. Also, think tanks, academic institutions and organizations across the nation will “convene stakeholders to discuss these very issues and questions.”