Home > All, Politics > The EU intends to open public data to the public

The EU intends to open public data to the public

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I would feel so much happier if I had some confidence that our political masters have a clue. Sadly, I don’t think they do. Instead, politics is about finding a good sound bite. Knowing what you’re talking about pales into insignificance in the face of a good sound bite.

The EU is going to open public data to the public. This is a Good Thing (with one reservation that I’ll come back to). The sound bite, sadly, destroys it.

These days, experts in the ICT field talk about “big data”: big because of the volume and variety of digital data captured, stored, analysed and used every second. Big data means big opportunities.
Public data for all – opening up Europe’s public sector

Umm, sorry, Neelie; ‘Big Data’ means no such thing.

Big data is a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time.
Big Data Definition: Wikipedia

In short, there are very few opportunities to work with Big Data unless you are already a huge organization with huge resources to invest in the massive IT infrastructure required to analyse Big Data.

Of course, what she wants people to hear is that

Opening up public data will get citizens involved in society and political life, increase the transparency of public administration, and improve public decision making. Those benefits cannot be overestimated. And public data can be used in many unexpected ways, too: as the father of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, put it: “if people put data onto the web… it will be used by other people to do wonderful things in ways that they never would have imagined”.

That aspect I applaud. But here’s my reservation. The companies that will truly be able to treat this data as Big Data (that is, all the data available), will not be doing so for the good of society, they will be doing so solely for their own profit. They will be the huge marketing companies, the pharmaceutical companies and the law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Opening public data to the public (and big business) will inevitably lead to a further and dramatic erosion of personal privacy in Europe.

Categories: All, Politics
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