Big Data and the Law

By: Sonny Zulhuda

“Big Data is an expression that typically refers not only to specific, large datasets, but also to data collections that consolidate many datasets from multiple sources, and even to the techniques used to manage and analyze the data” [M. R. Wigan and R. Clarke, IEEE Computer 46 (2013)]

It is, however, not the big size of the data that becomes the real issue. As Danah Boyd and Kate Crawford stated (2011), what really matters is on How we handle the emergence of an era of Big Data is critical… With the increased automation of data collection and analysis – as well as algorithms that can extract and inform us of massive patterns in human behavior – it is necessary to ask which systems are driving these practices, and which are regulating them (“Six Provocations of Big Data,” Danah Boyd & Kate Crawford, 2011).

From the legal perspective, several legal issues emerge in relation with Big Data; namely: Data ownership, data privacy, consumer protection, big data in contracts, and data governance. Under the issue of data ownership, several questions may arise; Is data in Public equal to Public data? When data is generated automatically, who owns it? Data generators, collectors, or processors? Is the Data amounting to intellectual property?

In the area of consumer protection, several concerns arise, including the disclosure of e-commerce business; ensuring consumers’ safety; dispute resolution and redress; as well as intrusive advertisement and marketing practices. In the area of electronic contracts, we see more usage of “electronic agents” such as those programmed online platforms that help online transactions. This process is also knowns as automation of contract. With Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), this will mean more automation and less human intervention.

Issues of data privacy and security include the question of how consent is secured during an automated collection of personal data; proliferation of sensor devices without sufficient notification; increasing use of surveillance cameras; data retention issues and the challenging task to secure data. On top of this, people and businesses who use Big Data shall make sure the whole data processing activities are in conformity with the law and rights of individuals. They also need to make sure the use of big data comply with evidentiary rules and regulations, e.g. use of facial recognition by law enforcement agencies to detect criminals.

This note is related to my presentation at the international class. IIUM collaborates with UII Yogyakarta and Youngsan University of Korea to present these international classes on Big Data and Law. My presentation is entitled Big Data, Privacy and the Law.

Thank you UII and Prof Dodik Setiawan Nur Heriyanto and Prof Budi Agus Riswandi for this great initiative.

Post Script: It is still 0-0 between Liverpool and Porto into the 50th minute now. The VAR has disrupted an earlier joy from Mane’s goal as it was disallowed for an offside! I saw this BIG DATA just played its role not only to give you more information (that Mane was offside by a few inches) but also to cancel or confirm your excitement! Indeed, Big Data is the next game-changer!

The slides can be downloaded here.

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