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ICO publishes paper on big data

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In a world where big data analytics is increasingly used across all sectors, artificial intelligence (“AI“) and machine learning are introduced on a bigger scale, and the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR“) is imminent, the ICO published on 3 March 2017 an updated paper addressing these topics (the “Paper“).

The Paper defines big data, AI and machine learning and recognises the benefits that can flow from big data analytics. The Paper also analyses the main implications for data protection because although big data, AI and machine learning increasingly are viewed as ‘business as usual’, the key characteristics of big data analytics (and the use of personal data in a big data context) are challenging from a data protection perspective. It concerns issues as the volume of data, the way data is generated, the tendency to find new uses for data, the complexity of data processing and the possibility of unexpected individual consequences. The Paper highlights the potential difficulties that might arise in that context.

The ICO’s main message is that while data protection can be challenging in a big data context, it is not necessary to compromise data privacy rights in order to benefit from big data analytics, and indeed meeting data protection requirements will benefit both organisations and individuals.

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