"Don’t get too hyped about big data"

Big Data

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has warned the government against getting caught in the hype on "big data" as a means to fight crime and terrorism, news outlet SBS reported Thursday.

In a recent report, the Australian think-tank cited that incoming new technologies are offering government agencies improved capabilities when it comes to collecting, collating, and analysing large amounts of information.

The advantages of big data, especially for busting crime, includes easy access to unstructured data, such as links that could be made easily and algorithms that could predict possible risks.

But it's just one of many tools, John Coyne, the think-tank's head of border security, said. 

"Big data itself is not a magic red button to solve the terror problem or national security challenges," Coyne pointed out. "It's not going to automatically mean that if you put every single name through and every single database through into the one area, it'll all be searched and we'll find 42 terrorists - that's not going to happen."

Big data is so complex, it can become too difficult to understand and fact-check, making proper oversight near impossible, the report warned. Without proper governance, it said, "big data" could infringe into people's rights to privacy and cause errors in classifying innocent people as suspicious and make false links.

"There are a number of risks with it," Coyne said.

Instead, the think-tank recommends that the national security community develop clearer public definitions of data and what types of data agencies have the power to collect.

Photo by: Raysonho via Wikipedia