Report: PCAST: Big Data and Privacy – a Technological Perspective

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is a council of members from industry, education, research institutions and NGOs that advises the US President on science and technology. PCAST has written many reports on a variety of subjects and the Premier’s Technology Council would like to highlight this report to show opportunities in big data and privacy.

This report by PCAST provides insight and perspectives around the technology of big data (and the privacy implications). It addresses some of issues around the exponential growth in generation and collection of data from digital and analog sources, and how individual privacy may be compromised or protected by these new developments. This piece outlines some of the great potential available through these data analytics but also major privacy issues where technologies for re-identification often develop faster than de-identification capabilities (challenging the concept of anonymizing data).   The report suggests:

  • Policy should focus more on the use and outcomes of big data and less on the mechanics of how it is collected.
  • Government agencies should strengthen research in privacy-related technologies and social sciences that inform the use of technology.
  • The United States should be a leader by adopting policies that stimulate the use of practical privacy-protecting technologies that exist today (through development of standards and procurement practices)

Full report available here: