Your privacy and big data

What is big data?

Big data refers to extremely large data sets that, when analyzed, can reveal patterns, trends and associations related to human behavior and interactions.

Big data is often defined by three ‘V’s:

  • Volume refers to the enormous quantity and scale of data that is stored and managed
  • Velocity is the measure of how quickly data is received from many sources and platforms like social media sites and mobile devices.
  • Variety refers to the many sources and types of data. The variety of sources range from social networks, videos and digital images to name a few.
What is big data analytics?

Big data analytics refers to the process of analyzing data collections. This detailed analysis can reveal patterns, trends and insights. This information can help government policy makers develop more effective and efficient programs.

How does big data affect privacy?

Big data offers great promise and opportunity in terms of the development of more efficient and effective government programs. But it can also present serious privacy challenges. These challenges can include:

  • unwarranted surveillance activities
  • inaccurate results or predictions
  • the use of biased data
  • unauthorized secondary uses of personal information.

Under Ontario’s privacy laws, government institutions must have safeguards in place to ensure that your personal information is appropriately collected, used, retained and disclosed.

What rights do I have under Ontario’s privacy laws?

Privacy is a fundamental right of every Ontarian. All Ontario public institutions are required by law to protect your personal information, and to follow strict rules when collecting, using and disclosing your personal information.

If you have any questions about what personal information a government institution is collecting or how it is being used, consult the institution’s website or contact the institution for more information.



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