Data analytics, “Big Data,” is being more widely implemented in more fields of public life and commerce. As data-mining tools are honed and expanded, the information they provide can be put to dubious purpose. In the MIT Tech Review
Data analytics are being used to implement a subtle form of discrimination, while anonymous data sets can be mined to reveal health data and other private information, a Microsoft researcher warned this morning at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.
Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, argued that these problems could be addressed with new legal approaches to the use of personal data.
In a new paper, she and a colleague propose a system of “due process” that would give people more legal rights to understand how data analytics are used in determinations made against them, such as denial of health insurance or a job. “It’s the very start of a conversation about how to do this better,” Crawford, who is also a visiting professor at the MIT Center for Civic Media, said in an interview before the event. “People think ‘big data’ avoids the problem of discrimination, because you are dealing with big data sets, but in fact big data is being used for more and more precise forms of discrimination—a form of data redlining.”