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ICO warns businesses of Big Data privacy issues

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned organisations that Big Data initiatives can and must operate within data protection law.

In a report, ICO claims although operations must be legal, this should not be seen as a barrier to innovation.

The document outlines how the law applies to Big Data projects when they use personal information, particular aspects of data protection that organisations need to consider and draws attention to bodies that still innovate while operating within the law.

“There is a buzz around Big Data and emerging evidence of its economic and social benefits,” claimed Steve Wood, ICO head of policy delivery.

“We’ve seen a lot of organisations who are raising questions about how they can innovate to find these benefits and still comply with the law.

“Individuals too are showing they’re concerned about how their data is being used and shared in Big Data type scenarios,” he added.

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Wood claims that organisations running Big Data projects need to be open about what they are doing in order to overcome the challenges presented by compliance.

He urges bodies to find innovative new ways to let customers know what they intend to do with information and what they hope to achieve.

The policy delivery head also claims there are “benefits” associated with being seen as a responsible custodian of data.

“Big Data can work within the established data protection principles. The basic data protection principles already established in the UK and EU law are flexible enough to cover Big Data,” claimed Wood.

“Applying those principles involves asking all the questions that anyone undertaking Big Data ought to be asking.

“Big Data is not a game that is played by different rules,” he added.