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White House launches big-data privacy study

Jan. 31, 2014 - 05:14PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
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John Podesta will lead a review, due in three months, on the impact of big data on personal privacy. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The Obama administration is launching a comprehensive review of the potential impact of big data on personal privacy.

“The immense volume, diversity and potential value of data will have profound implications for privacy, the economy and public policy,” White House Counselor John Podesta wrote this month in an official blog post. The review, scheduled for completion in three months, “will consider all those issues, and specifically how the present and future state of these technologies might motivate changes in our policies across a range of sectors.”

Obama asked Podesta to lead the review following an outcry over the extent of National Security Agency collection of Americans’ phone records and other surveillance programs broadly intended to head off future terrorist attacks. Also involved will be Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Gene Sperling, the president’s economic adviser, according to Podesta.

The working group will consult with technology and privacy experts, industry leaders, and civil liberties groups, he said. In addition, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology will conduct an in-depth study on the technological aspects of the intersection of big data and privacy.

Although the review is unlikely to lead to a comprehensive new policy, Podesta added, “we expect this work to serve as the foundation for a robust and forward-looking plan of action.”

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