2015 Press Releases
Global legislation ‘ill-equipped’ to cope with Big Data revolution
Privacy and data protection legislation worldwide is ill-equipped to deal with the Big Data revolution, according to Professor Maeve McDonagh from UCC’s School of Law.
Professor McDonagh, UCC President, Dr Michael Murphy; and Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics in the Department of Computer Science at UCC will this evening deliver talks and participate in a panel discussion at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The UCC-commissioned documentary The Genius of George Boole will have its US premiere at the event. Narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons and produced by multi award-winning Oxford Film and Television, the film was first screened on RTÉ One and shines new light on the legacy of George Boole, recognised as the forefather of the information age.
The Genius of George Boole | RTÉ One https://t.co/9DMEWd2gEe— Cian Hughes (@CianHughes) September 1, 2015
The United Nations General Assembly designated today, October 20, as World Statistics Day, recognising in its resolution the “bicentenary of the birth of George Boole, whose work on the application of the principles of logic as a form of algebra underpins all modern computer science.”
Today is UN World Statistics Day in honour of George Boole: the first Professor of Mathematics at UCC #StatsDay15— IrishForeignMinistry (@dfatirl) October 20, 2015
How a Victorian mathematics don became a digital pioneer http://t.co/hsqgM5g5uy— The Guardian (@guardian) October 17, 2015
Fittingly, ‘better data, better lives’ is the 2015 theme of World Statistics Day. After an introduction by H.E. David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN, the UCC speakers will discuss the life and legacy of George Boole, data analytics and sustainable development; and Big Data and human rights. Anoush Rima Tatevossian, Strategic Communications Officer for UN Global Pulse will discuss Big Data for development.
Big Data — which involves applying sophisticated data analysis tools to huge sets of data gathered from diverse sources, from social networks to apps — establishes correlations, some of which are unexpected, commented Professor McDonagh, an academic lawyer specialising in information law.
“Big Data is now being used to predict individual behaviour and its use for this purpose can result in decisions being made about people based on that analysis, which limits their autonomy and potentially opens them to discrimination.
“Predictions can be made not only in the commercial world of online selling and advertising but also by government agencies, including law enforcement agencies.”
Predictive policing is now used in some of the largest police departments in the US. The Los Angeles Police Department, for example, uses Big Data analysis to decide where to position officers.
While the proposed new European General Data Protection Regulation contains some innovative provisions, it is based on a traditional model that does not take appropriate account of developments in Big Data, Professor McDonagh believes.
“It focuses primarily on requirements of notice and consent. The notice requirement means that people must be informed at the time they supply their personal data of all of the uses it will be put to. This is impractical in the Big Data context because the collectors may not reveal or even be aware of those downstream uses.”
As for consent, it is unrealistic to speak of genuine consent in an age when few people read through privacy policies before surrendering their personal data, when downloading an app for example, she said.
There are many beneficial uses of big data, such as predicting the spread of disease, she said, however its use to predict human behaviour demands careful regulation, particularly in contexts such as law enforcement and government surveillance.
“The processing of Big Data can have negative implications for the enjoyment of the right to privacy which is protected by all the major human rights conventions. We need to revisit our privacy and data protection legislation to ensure that it meets the standards demanded by our human rights law obligations,” Professor McDonagh added.
George Boole Day is set to take place on UCC's campus on November 2, the bicentenary of his birth. More than 46,000 school students across over 30 countries, including the US, are already signed up to study logic in a Boolean Maths lesson that day, as part of the education initiative UCC Brings Boole2School.
It's UN World Statistics Day in honour of George Boole.Get involved in Boole2School by registering your class here...https://t.co/f6p9KVpxFF— education.ie (@Education_Ire) October 20, 2015
Other events on the day will include honorary conferrings and the Inaugural Lecture as part of the Compute & Communicate: A Boole/Shannon Celebration between UCC and MIT.