The volume of information shared among people in this age of the internet and social media keeps growing with the creation of new sharing platforms and the rise in the number of people subscribing to social media. Corporate institutions and governments have developed data mining and analytic tools that gather information and synthesize them according to their needs, which are obvious for this case; target marketing for corporations and surveillance for governments (Perera, Ranjan, & Wang, 2015a). However, a problem exists in the fact that most people are unconscious of the idea that sharing private information could compromise their privacy because it reveals a lot of information about them.
Research and Background of the Problem
During this time of worldwide information security crisis, civilians are being compelled to accept less privacy as a tradeoff for their security. The paradigm has been existing for some time; at least soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US (Perera et al., 2015b). A significant proportion of the populace has been driven into the assumption that more governmental control and visibility from them translates into bolstered safety, especially because they think that the government has been on the right track in keeping the country secure from the possibilities of another terrorist attack of the 9/11 magnitude. The narrative has been that gathering private information is informed by intelligence strategies that could help deter crime from happening.
While the common notion has been that security relies on disclosure, some groups have opposed the ideology, arguing that too much information collected on people compromises their privacy and exposed them to security risks. For example, the extant literature reports that international criminal groups target private data from unsuspecting civilians (Perera et al., 2015a). The same cited study suggests that cybersecurity is one of the largest challenges to the safety of private information, which has been growing in volume over the past few years. The fact that most of the organizations and governmental institutions involved in data mining store such information in central databases for easy retrieval complicate the issue because it makes such resources primary targets for cybercrime primarily because of the high chances of security vulnerabilities. Consequently, while the aspect of sharing information promises intelligence outcomes as argued, it has the pitfall of risking privacy, especially if the concerned parties do not heed the necessary security measures.
Potential Solutions or Initiatives to the Problem
From the brief research on the problem, one of the most straightforward approaches to mitigating the problem would be to build a resilient security system that would guarantee the safety of shared data while complementing the strategy with public education on responsible sharing of private data. The second possible solution would redefine the classification for private information with the objective of ensuring that only specific information with security implications is gathered by intelligence units (Perera et al., 2015a). Lastly, it would be worth considering the need to eliminate private companies from the scene by outlawing their collection of private information from the public, which would leave the government as the only player because private organizations are tempted to use the data for profit.
The dilemma between sharing private information and privacy requires an urgent solution. Specifically, the need arises from the growing threat to critical information in this age of information security safety because of the growing possibilities of cyber-attacks. While this paper has proposed three solutions, leaving big data mining to government agencies would be a feasible solution to the threats identified because it would fit the argument that the collection of such data is solely for security purposes and not for profit as private organizations have initially done.
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- Perera, C., Ranjan, R., & Wang, L. (2015a). End-to-end privacy for open big data markets. IEEE Cloud Computing, 2(4), 44-53.
- Perera, C., Ranjan, R., Wang, L., Khan, S. U., & Zomaya, A. Y. (2015b). Big data privacy in the internet of things era. IT Professional, 17(3), 32-39.