ENBIS-16 in Sheffield

11 – 15 September 2016; Sheffield Abstract submission: 20 March – 4 July 2016

Ethical Pitfalls of Big Data

12 September 2016, 10:00 – 10:20


Submitted by
Joanna Berry
Joanna Berry (Durham University Business School), Shirley Coleman (Newcastle University)
An internet minute sees millions of emails, hours of music and hundreds of thousands of uses of social media. The ‘internet of things’, within which every device is connected to every other device and every human being, steadily increases the network of networks which supports and informs all our lives.

There are clearly opportunities for monetising insight derived from generated and wholly-owned company big data but what are the challenges? Big data is a relatively new term applying to data acquired by increasingly sophisticated and easily available technologies.

Big data has three fundamental elements: the velocity at which data can be gathered and processes (in real or nearly real time, and in periodic or batch formats), the variety of data that can be collected (across all social media, video, audio, SMS/MMS and other applications) and the volume of data which can be not only gathered, but also stored…from kilobytes to petabytes and beyond, through the intelligent application of cloud based storage functionality.

Two other important issues are also essential; veracity of the data being interrogated and the value of the insight derived. These could also be described as the issues of truth and trust. The ability to monetise insight derived from big data will be an increasingly significant part of many companies’ business models. However it is critical to ensure that the legal and ethical implications of making a profit from personal information are factored into business model development and this paper will focus on these two issues.

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