Are basic Human Rights being violated by Big Data?

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Are basic Human Rights being violated by Big Data?

The Edwastock-photo-11012758-computer-networkrd Snowden insider threat has been played out in a variety of scenarios but the questions have been expressed as theoretical “What IF” table top exercises at best.   To date no research has been conducted to analyze the potential unintended circumstances that could lead to real harm to society and basic human rights if big data is misused.

That is until now.   A research grant of nearly 5 million pounds or $7.4 million US dollars has been awarded to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) at the University of Essex who will lead the first global project investigating the human rights implications of the collection, storage and use of big data.

The project will explore how big data that is gathered through social media can be used against us and to determine if there are ways to document human rights violations through the exploitation of this information.

Essex University will conduct the research through its Human Rights Centre using a multidisciplinary team of experts from law, social science, computer science and technology.    Principal investigator, Professor Maurice Sunkin of the Essex School of Law noted, “Rapid technological developments, and our engagement with things like social media, enable unprecedented collection and analysis of big data.

“The data can be used to provide comprehensive profiles of our societies, and of identifiable individuals.  While offering huge potential benefits this poses significant threats to fundamental human rights.”

“Adopting a global perspective, our research will improve understanding and assist the development of law to enable us to benefit from big data, while limiting the potential harm and ensuring human rights are protected.”

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office telephone:  01206 872400 or email: comms@.

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