It is not just the NSA, the infamous snooping authority of the US, that has been collecting data of millions of Americans, many other private companies do the same, according to reports published from theObama administration.

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  • On Facebook, there are some 350 million photos uploaded and shared every day.“On YouTube, 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute,” John Podesta, a top adviser to President Obama, said during a conference at MIT.

Computer World reported that Podesta leads the 90-day study group that will soon be presenting a report to the president on the privacy issues surrounding the ‘big data’— collection and storage of personal information. Earlier, in January, 2014, Obama had announced the working group as a reformative measure to seek advice on the NSA’s contradictory surveillance programs.

Technological advances are not without its vices. At one end where the technological innovations means improved communication and connectivity, it also means leaving an electronic imprint of almost everything that we do on the other end—be it the people we contact, the websites surfed, and our physical locations as well.

  • We are undergoing a revolution in the way that information about our purchases, our conversations, our social networks, our movements, and even our physical identities are collected, stored, analyzed and used,” said the counselor.

While government’s access to personal information is under the privacy breach scanner, private companies cannot be completely absolved of it, was the implied message by the White House.

As well the collection of massive personal information can lead to powerful innovations, such as genome research and education, and may have profound implications for economy and public policies, but it is absolutely necessary that adequate privacy safeguards are installed.

  • He added that the working group “will consider all those issues and specifically how the present and future state of these technologies might motivate us to revisit our policies across a range of sectors.”

Similar views were echoed by the Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who was also a distinguished speaker at the MIT conference. She emphasized that privacy protections will go a long way in building trust in internet services, the fodder for the economic growth.

  • All of the data in the world is worthless unless consumers trust the companies they buy from, unless citizens trust their governments, and unless institutions of all kinds trust each other to play by the rules,” she said. 

Earlier in 2012, the White House announced “privacy bill of rights,” a set of guidelines for the companies to handle personal information. However, the bill could not be enacted into law for reasons best known to the Congress.

Pushpa Mishra

Pushpa is a Dubai based scientific academic editor who worked for Reuters' Zawya business magazine and at the same time a passionate writer for HackRead. From the very first day she has been a blessing for team Hackread. Thanks to her dedication and enthusiasm.