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5/6/2014 FACT SHEET: Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review | The White House

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ForImmediateRelease May01,2014
TheWhiteHouse
OfficeofthePressSecretary
FACTSHEET:BigDataandPrivacyWorkingGroupReview
Drivenbythedecliningcostofdatacollection,storage,andprocessingfueledbynewonlineandrealworld
sourcesofdata,includingsensors,cameras,andgeospatialtechnologiesandanalyzedusingasuiteofcreative
andpowerfulnewmethods,bigdataisfundamentallyreshapinghowAmericansandpeoplearoundtheworld
live,work,andcommunicate.Itisenablingimportantdiscoveriesandinnovationsinpublicsafety,healthcare,
medicine,education,energyuse,agriculture,andahostofotherareas.Butbigdatatechnologiesalsoraise
challengingquestionsabouthowbesttoprotectprivacyandothervaluesinaworldwheredatacollectionwillbe
increasinglyubiquitous,multidimensional,andpermanent.
InJanuary,PresidentObamaaskedhisCounselorJohnPodestatoleada90dayreviewofbigdataandprivacy.
Thereviewwasconceivedasfundamentallyascopingexercise,designedtodefineforthePresidentwhatisnew
aboutthetechnologiesthatdefinethebigdatalandscapeuncoverwhereandhowbigdataaffectspublicpolicy
andthelawsandnormsgoverningprivacytoaskhowandwhetherbigdatacreatesnewchallengesforthe
principlesanimatingtheConsumerPrivacyBillofRightsembracedbytheAdministrationin2012andtolayout
anagendaforhowgovernmentcanmaximizethebenefitsandminimizetherisksofbigdata.
TheworkinggroupwhichincludedCommerceSecretaryPritzker,EnergySecretaryMoniz,thePresident's
ScienceAdvisorJohnHoldren,thePresident'sEconomicAdvisorJeffZients,andotherSeniorAdministration
Officialssoughtpublicinputandworkedover90dayswithacademicresearchersandprivacyadvocates,
regulatorsandthetechnologyindustry,advertisersandcivilrightsgroups,theinternationalcommunityandthe
Americanpublic.ThisreviewwassupportedbyaparalleleffortbythePresident'sCouncilofAdvisorsonScience
andTechnology(PCAST)toresearchthetechnologicaltrendsunderpinningbigdata.
Today,PodestaandthebigdataworkinggrouppresentedtheirfindingsandrecommendationstothePresident.
Thereviewdidnotsetouttoanswereveryquestionaboutbigdata,norwasitintendedtodevelopa
comprehensivepolicyapproachtobigdata.However,byevaluatingtheopportunitiesandchallengespresented
bybigdata,theworkinggroupwasabletodrawimportantconclusionsandmakeconcreterecommendationsto
thePresidentforAdministrationattentionandpolicydevelopment.
SEIZINGOPPORTUNITIES
Weliveinaworldofnearubiquitousdatacollectionwherethatdataisbeingcrunchedataspeedincreasingly
approachingrealtime.Thisrevolutionpresentsincredibleopportunities:
Bigdataissavinglives.Infectionsaredangerousevendeadlyformanybabiesbornprematurely.By
collectingandanalyzingmillionsofdatapointsfromaneonatalintensivecareunit,onestudywasableto
identifyfactors,likeslightchangesinbodytemperatureandheartrate,thatserveasearlywarningsignsan
infectionmaybetakingrootsubtlechangesthateventhemostexperienceddoctorsmaynothavehave
noticedontheirown.
Bigdataismakingtheeconomyworkbetter.Jetenginesanddeliverytrucksnowcomeoutfittedwith
sensorsthatcontinuouslymonitorhundredsofdatapointsandsendautomaticalertswhenmaintenanceis
needed.Utilitycompaniesarestartingtousebigdatatopredictperiodsofpeakelectricdemand,adjusting
thegridtobemoreefficientandpotentiallyavertingbrownouts.
Bigdataissavingtaxpayerdollars.TheCentersforMedicareandMedicaidServiceshavebegunusing
predictiveanalyticsabigdatatechniquetoflaglikelyinstancesofreimbursementfraudbeforeclaims
arepaid.TheFraudPreventionSystemhelpsidentifythehighestriskhealthcareprovidersforwaste,
fraud,andabuseinrealtimeandhasalreadystopped,prevented,oridentified$115millioninfraudulent
payments.
Bigdataalsopresentspowerfulopportunitiesinareasasdiverseasmedicalresearch,agriculture,energy
efficiency,globaldevelopment,education,environmentalmonitoring,andmodelingclimatechangeimpacts,
amongothers.
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5/6/2014 FACT SHEET: Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review | The White House
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/05/01/fact-sheet-big-data-and-privacy-working-group-review 2/2
PRESERVINGOURVALUES
Theopportunitiespresentedbybigdataareconsiderable,butbigdataraisesseriousconcernsabouthowwe
protectourprivacyandothervalues.Forexample:
Bigdatatoolscanalterthebalanceofpowerbetweengovernmentandcitizen.Governmentagencies
canreapenormousbenefitsfromusingbigdatatoimproveservicedeliveryordetectpaymentfraud.But
governmentusesofbigdataalsohavethepotentialtochilltheexerciseoffreespeechorfreeassociation.
Asmoredataiscollected,analyzed,andstoredonbothpublicandprivatesystems,wemustbevigilantin
ensuringthatbalanceismaintainedbetweengovernmentandcitizens,andreviseourlawsaccordingly.
Bigdatatoolscanrevealintimatepersonaldetails.Onepowerfulbigdatatechniqueinvolvesmerging
multipledatasets,drawnfromdisparatesources,torevealcomplexpatterns.Butthispractice,sometimes
knownasdatafusion,canalsoleadtothesocalledmosaiceffect,wherebypersonallyidentifiable
informationcanbediscernedevenfromostensiblyanonymizeddata.Asbigdatabecomesevenmore
widelyusedintheprivatesectortobringawellspringofinnovationsandproductivity,wemustensurethat
effectiveconsumerprivacyprotectionsareinplacetoprotectindividuals.
Bigdatatoolscouldleadtodiscriminatoryoutcomes.Asmoredecisionsaboutourcommercialand
personallivesaredeterminedbyalgorithmsandautomatedprocesses,wemustpaycarefulattentionthat
bigdatadoesnotsystematicallydisadvantagecertaingroups,whetherinadvertentlyorintentionally.We
mustpreventnewmodesofdiscriminationthatsomeusesofbigdatamayenable,particularlywithregard
tolongstandingcivilrightsprotectionsinhousing,employment,andcredit.
POLICYRECOMMENDATIONS
Nomatterhowquicklytechnologyadvances,itremainswithinourpowertoensurethatwebothencourage
innovationandprotectourvaluesthroughlaw,policy,andthepracticesweencourageinthepublicandprivate
sector.Tothatend,theworkinggroupmadesixactionablepolicyrecommendationsintheirreporttothe
President:
AdvancetheConsumerPrivacyBillofRightsbecauseconsumersdeserveclear,understandable,
reasonablestandardsforhowtheirpersonalinformationisusedinthebigdataera.
PassNationalDataBreachLegislationthatprovidesforasinglenationaldatabreachstandard,alongthe
linesoftheAdministration's2011Cybersecuritylegislativeproposal.
ExtendPrivacyProtectionstononU.S.Personsbecauseprivacyisaworldwidevaluethatshouldbe
reflectedinhowthefederalgovernmenthandlespersonallyidentifiableinformationfromnonU.S.citizens.
EnsureDataCollectedonStudentsinSchoolisusedforEducationalPurposestodrivebetterlearning
outcomeswhileprotectingstudentsagainsttheirdatabeingsharedorusedinappropriately.
ExpandTechnicalExpertisetoStopDiscriminationbecausethefederalgovernmentshouldbuildthe
technicalexpertisetobeabletoidentifypracticesandoutcomesfacilitatedbybigdataanalyticsthathavea
discriminatoryimpactonprotectedclasses.
AmendtheElectronicCommunicationsPrivacyActtoensurethestandardofprotectionforonline,
digitalcontentisconsistentwiththataffordedinthephysicalworldincludingbyremovingarchaic
distinctionsbetweenemailleftunreadoroveracertainage.
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