Cyberlaw Predictions: Big Data

This post is the fourteenth in a series of predictions from legal and business experts about the directions cyberlaw policy might take in 2013, solicited by editors of BNA's Electronic Commerce & Law Report during the closing weeks of 2012. We asked that the remarks be brief -- something along the lines of a Twitter "tweet" or an elevator pitch. Over 100 attorneys, law professors, online business executives, policy advocates and other cyberlaw experts responded, producing 307 separate assessments, predictions, or just plain complaints regarding any of the many legal subject areas that affect online businesses.

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The year 2012 saw law enforcement officials, businesses, and even candidates for political office embrace "big data" technologies. Many contributors remarked that, in 2013, "big data" will test an already creaky information privacy regime in the United States.

The experts' views:

2013 is likely to be big year for privacy and a tough year for data brokers. Jonathan D. Hart, Partner, Dow Lohnes PLLC, Washington, D.C.

The merger of on line data and offline data will produce vast--and largely unregulated--repositories of information on a significant portion of the American population. Joseph V. DeMarco, @devoredemarco, Partner, DeVore & DeMarco LLP, New York, N.Y.

The digital privacy debate won't progress until we re-define "PII" from "Personally Identifiable Information" to "Privacy-Impacting Information." In the world of "Big Data," any data is potentially privacy-impacting. Lynn St. Amour, @LynnStAmour, President/CEO, Internet Society, Geneva, Switzerland/Reston, Va.

Many states and countries passed comprehensive privacy reform while Google and Facebook continued to amass unimaginable quantities of personal data. Christine Jones, @attyjones, Former General Counsel,, Phoenix, Ariz.

Personalized medicine, personal devices, and tracking: bioinformatics companies will need to figure out how to keep feeding big data while keeping the regulators from shutting down the flow of sometimes quite personal information. Plus the USPTO and EPO need to figure out how to provide reasonable and balanced protection to the IP of the biometrics industry. Kevin R. Erdman, @kevinerdman, Partner, Reichel IP LLP, Indianapolis.

Big data, a big issue for privacy. Bradley L. Joslove, Partner, Franklin Societe D' Avocats, Paris.

In 2013, people will still discuss PII, but PII is already becoming outdated as important currency in the information economy, since with the right data sets and right analytics you can know incredible details about people without ever knowing their name. Joseph V. DeMarco, @devoredemarco, Partner, DeVore & DeMarco LLP, New York, N.Y.

2013 should be the year when regulators, lawyers and the law catch up to social business and begin to decipher the impact of big data. Glen Gilmore, @glengilmore, Attorney and Digital Marketing Strategist, Gilmore Business Network, Greater New York.

Over 2 zettabytes of info created and shared annually--now that's Big Data--and it will only get bigger in 2013. Albert Gidari, Partner, Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle.

Politicians who used relevant advertising and tailored marketing tools for 2012 campaigns should be wary of regulating the way consumer information is collected, shared and used, as it will impact the quality of the data they can use in the future as well. Francine Friedman, Senior Policy Counsel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Washington, D.C.

Irony Alert: the same Obama Administration that was so vocal in 2012 about protecting consumer privacy had been collecting, mining and amassing a trove of personal data about its supporters over the past four years for use in the President's re-election campaign. Yaron Dori, @yarondori, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C.

Data quality will become a critical aspect of big data as poor data quality results in increased legal liabilities and privacy violations for companies in the U.S. and global marketplace. Alan S. Wernick, Founder & Director, ITIP Institute, Chicago.

Big data will change corporate data retention policies. Current polices hold data only as long as litigation or regulatory retention periods require or for even shorter corporate data periods. To get the benefit of running data analytics against a company's own historical customer and other data, the retention periods will need to be lengthened so the data remains available. William A. Tanenbaum, Partner and Chair, Intellectual Property & Outsourcing Group, Kaye Scholer LLP, New York, N.Y.


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