Abhishek Mehta Discusses the Concept of Data Ownership

The controversy around the NSA’s recently exposed surveillance program has triggered an important public debate about user privacy and Big Data transparency, according to Tresata founder Abhishek Mehta. He provided his take on these two topics in a Q&A session with SiliconAngle NewsDesk host Kristin Feledy.

In Mehta’s view, the discussion around the positive applications of Big Data is hollow if user privacy is not being addressed. Individuals and organizations need to know who owns their data, who has access to it, and what can be done with it. He stresses that it’s impossible to argue for or against PRISM or any other application of Big Data without thinking through these issues.

Feledy asks Mehta to elaborate on the concept of data ownership. He provide his definition, which he says is one of several. The way Mehta sees it, big tech firms possess ‘pools’ of user data. Amazon is the “purchasing cloud of information,” Facebook is the “social cloud of information,” and so on. Consumers entrust these companies with their data, but they don’t necessarily know who owns it, and more importantly, they can’t access all of it from one place because the technology required to do so is not yet available. Much of this also applies to private organizations, which generate large amounts of sensitive information that can easily fall into the hands of third parties.

Mehta believes that in time, these isolated pools of user information will collapse into one another. He views this trend positively, but stresses that Big Data can be a source of both good and evil. PRISM is not the first or last large-scale privacy violation, he notes, but the incident will help raise public and industry awareness about user privacy.

To see the full discussion, check out the NewsDesk video below.