Is Privacy Still The Reality In The 21st Century?

1302 words - 6 pages

Anyone who has ever watched a movie or television knows that classic scene where a character poses the question “Does it feel like we’re being watched?” to another character. Now, many Americans in today’s society are asking the same exact question about their own lives. In the 21st century, modern technology has made it so that governments, businesses, scientists and researchers can do just that: watch our lives with clusters of what is called “Big Data.” Big data is commonly seen as the digital storage of large quantities of information (CQ researcher, 909). Big data can be anything, from a person’s Facebook content to their email address; any personal information about someone can be considered big data (909). The question, then, is how the data is used and what are the benefits and negatives of the access that entities have to this big data.
Big data is digital storage of large quantities of information and it comes in many different forms. It can be a person’s information from social media, their phone calls and records, emails, bank statements and any other personal information they may have including credit card numbers (912). This information is most often found within email, social media and search engines (912). Additionally, government organizations like the National Security Administration (NSA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) collect much of this big data; in one instance, the DEA demanded phone records of AT&T customers (912). Computers designated for big data can look further past structure to look at less structured data like Facebook information, camera images, search engine searches and what customers look at at online retail stores like Amazon.com (912). Much of the big data that is stored comes from these sources as well. Beyond all of that, tracking sensors that are internet-connected are being installed quickly and in large volumes to collect even more big data (912). To put into perspective just how much data is stored and available, ninety-eight percent of the world’s information is digital, while only fourteen years ago, just twenty-five percent was; all but ten percent of that did not exist two years ago (912). On top of that, data that is store digitally is increased twofold every two to three years (912). However, with all this data stored, how is it being used?
Big data is used in many different ways; how it is used is really dependent upon who is using it. However, three entities use this data more than anyone else: scientists/researchers, businesses, and government. Scientists use big data in many different ways. Peter Higgs and Francois Englert won the Nobel Prize for Physics this past year by using new big data to prove their theory that matter obtains mass from an energy source that is not known, but fills the entire universe (911). They used big data and its computers because they needed technology that would be both fast enough and intelligent enough to examine their theory’s results (911)....

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