Big Data Innovation, Issue 21

Where we look at how big data is being used in healthcare


Data is evolving.

It is no longer the thing that geeks talk about in dark rooms before passing the information up to their superiors, or that scientists use in experiments - it has become one of the most important things on the planet. We have seen with recent news reports, from the seemingly never-ending-story of Julian Assange’s potential extradition, to Edward Snowden’s continued exile in Russia, that it is front page news.

However, it has been a far more subtle news story that has the potential to have the biggest impact on how we use, store and access data in the future. This has been the Maximillian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner (case C-362/14) in the Court of Justice of the EU. Here it was found that in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations that the existing data sharing deal between the US and EU (Safeharbour) did not sufficiently protect data being transferred from the EU to the U.S. 

After discussions between the U.S and EU, the new treaty is likely to be called the EU-US Privacy Shield, which was announced in February, with further details slowly coming out about it. One of the key elements will be the way that companies holding a large amount of data store it and make sure it is not misused.

It will also provide greater protection for private citizens’ data from government use outlined in the Edward Snowden leak, following the ruling that the existing treaty didn’t do enough.

We do not currently know a huge amount about the lengths that companies and governments will need to go to, but one of the clearest elements is that it will have a profound impact on the way that companies in both the U.S and EU collect, store and access their data in the future. However, it is not the only big data news.

Away from this, but also having profound implications, is the ongoing saga of Apple refusing to unlock their iPhones and the FBI attempting to force them to do so. In essence it would mean Apple creating a security weakness in their device that could be exploited; however, the FBI argue that it would need to be a one time thing to look at one or two phones.

Regardless of how both turn out, it looks like 2016 is turning into an incredibly important year for data protection and government use of data.

As always, if you have any comment on the magazine or you want to submit an article, please contact me at 

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