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Big data needs privacy protection says SAP CTO

Big data projects using personal information need to respect privacy

Big data needs privacy protection says SAP CTO
There is a need for governance to protect privacy, and also a need to build trust around data usage in big data projects, says Khan.

Government big data deployments need proper laws and policies to protect people's privacy, according to SAP's chief technology officer.

Speaking at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government Innovation Day event which took place today, Irfan Khan said that with governments now able to collect and analyse huge volumes of data about citizens and residents, there is also a duty to respect people's privacy with regards to how the data is used, and also a need to create trust that data is not abused and convince people of the value of conducting big data.

"If we look at the profile of information that is stored around us as individual citizens now, it is important to understand that there is a need for governance of that information, and also a level of belief and trust that people are not going to use that information in a malicious way," Khan said.

"The reality is that each of us as citizens are creating a much larger data footprint every day of our lives, if you look at the amount of information from cradle to grave, that will be associated with us individuals, it is going to run into hundreds of terabytes, if not petabytes, in our lifetime. If we look at the academic value that will is associated with information that is one thing, but the other thing we have to concern ourselves with is really the privacy aspect, the concept of data ethics is something that we also now need to start thinking about," he added.

Khan said that in some big data analytics instances users would be happy to share their data, for example in healthcare projects where data from patients could be used to improve treatment, but the privacy of that data has to be respected, in order for people to be comfortable sharing data.

"As we look at the stakeholder value of information, that will be an important characteristic, but it is equally important for us to also preserve the privacy of people's lives as well. There is always going to be a trade off, but the reality is that there will be a need for very strong privacy at the same time as making sure that people see the value big data can offer," he added.

Ghazi Atallah, managing director, neXgen Advisory Group, added that policy and laws are needed both to protect privacy and to regulate how data can be used.

"As you put together these big data platforms, and you start thinking about security, privacy, policy related to the use of data, then there is a whole parallel track to put the right policy in place, and put the right laws in place to protect the use of this data, and also to enable the use of this data. There is a protection element and there and an enablement element."

The pair were speaking during the second Innovation Day, held by MBRSG and SAP, which seeks to explore technology and issues around global best practices on smart government transformation.

The event focused on how big data analytics can be harnessed by government, to tackle challenges of urbanisation and give greater insight into areas such as healthcare, urban planning, transport, and public security.

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