Author: Anietia Tom,
3rd Year, BBA LLB (Hons.),
School of Law, Christ.
We are moving slowly into an era where big data is the starting point, not the end.” – Pearl Zhu, author of the “Digital Master” book series.


Raw data has always been an untold component in most professions; let it be a municipal corporation or a law firm.[1] The revolution of information technology and the advent of digital era, saw a shift from raw data to ‘big data’. The word ‘big data’ isn’t exactly something the layman is not aware of. Every click on every website is an element of big data.[2] It is essentially the collection of significant amount of data that correlates based on similar characteristics. The data is usually complex; an analysis and further procedures are conducted before achieving desired results.[3] This massive collection and analysis of huge chunks of data are done at relatively low costs. [4]

The dawn of a concept like big data shows a change from ‘Internet of things’ to ‘Internet of everything’. [5] Internet giants such as Google and Facebook have been amassing data over the years. From customizing your profile to tracking your searches, these giants have been collecting and storing huge amounts of data. This paper mainly proposes that recent suggested legislations to regulate the digital world, with its conventional ideals might not be the best plausible solution. Instead, it is contended that novel, unconventional approaches might be the way to go.

Big data in its core, facilitates more efficient and strategic decision making. There are certain tools such as Hadoop, that are required to store data summaries in this manner. Big data has numerous benefits. It helps increase productivity, reduce costs, improve customer service, fraud detection, increase revenue, increase agility,etc.[6] 

The advantages of Big data might have saved the work of many. It has been a blessing in disguise to many co-operations, promising improved structure and new business opportunities.[7] It is taking a step forward in development of a country. However, it did manage to raise some eyebrows regarding the high privacy risks associated with personal data.


Most communications tod
ay are digitized
[8] and data recorded for the purpose of big data is essentially information of individuals and their behaviour. Information privacy allows one to have control over the data about themselves to a certain extent. Individuals time and again raise concerns regarding what has been done to the information they provided via the internet.

The author has thus come to the understanding that there are various levels of privacy concerns based on an individual’s subjective view of fairness[9] of the amount of infringement over their personal sphere of life.[10]  Some term it to be “exploitation” for the benefit of the owner of the website[11].  Some suggest that their right to be anonymous is violated and that their information is not secure on the internet.

The global privacy legislation landscape has shifted considerably in the recent past.  From the California Governor signing all five of the Consumer Privacy Act Amendments to India acknowledging the existence and issues that prevail over the right of privacy in India through the Puttuswamy judgment[12].

The evolution of privacy jurisprudence can be examined via international as well as national lens. The Global Data Protection Regulation issued by the European Union processes personal data in the context of activities of the EU establishment, regardless of whether such data had been processed inside the European Union.  This Regulation does not process data not established in the EU. Hence, it does not extend to data subjects’ personal data in connection with offering of goods and services to them or monitoring their behaviour.[13]
The Personal Data Protection Bill of 2018 applies to the processing of personal data within the territory of India and it also extends to processing personal data by the State, any Indian company, any Indian citizen or any person incorporated under Indian law. However, the extraterritorial law extends to only those conducting business in India or processing which involves data principles within the territory of India. It does not provide for protection of foreigners who may have given away their information to companies that are not incorporated in India.

The California Consumer Privacy Act extends only to any for profit entity doing business in California. It gives certain revenue targets that are to be met by the organization for it to come under the ambit of regulation. [14]It is contended that just due to the fact that one’s gross revenue might not reach the target of $25 million does not mean it cannot exploit the consumers’ privacy.


As iterated through a brief analysis of the available legislations that regulate data on the internet, it is clear that just conventional legislations drafted and tried to be implemented by the Executive is inadequate to combat technology. It is suggested that only technology can combat technology. At this juncture in the digital era, the best method that may be adopted is Blockchain Technology.

Blockchain in its essentiality is an online distributed ledger. By implementing Blockchain in a world that has big data, the decentralized network will help ease access to the data without allowing any data manipulation issue to surface. [15] The technology will further prevent data leaks, therefore, ensuring the privacy of the information providers. Once the information is stored on the channel, even the most senior managers in a company will need multiple permissions from other points in the network to access the data. It is therefore impos
sible for a cybercriminal to seize it.

Moreover, the information providers not only get a better standard or living, as advocated throughout the paper, they also may monetize the companies they give information to. According to Bill Schmarzo, CTO of Dell EMC Services, the Blockchain allows individuals to regain control over their personal data and thereby monetize them to companies. Consumers are able to control who has access to their Blockchain data without the intervention of a third party.[16]


At the end of the day, there is a paradigm of choosing between privacy and development; the bewilderment the society faces in order to ensure that your privacy is protected while taking all your information to provide you with a better and easier standard of living. It is a trade-off between development and protection of one’s privacy.

It is contended that big data is making profit by intrusion of one’s personal privacy, there is no legal reason to advocate for such a contention as there is just mere processing of personal data for development of a business model.[17]

As iterated in the Puttaswamy[18] judgement, “the concept of privacy is founded on the autonomy of an individual. The ability of an individual to make choices lies at the core of the human personality.” Hence, it is indeed one’s choice; the information he wishes to reveal about himself, the necessity of it, etc.

The Right to privacy is mainly advocated due to security reasons. However, it is humbly contended that a person who comes under the ambit of high security or rather, who requires high security has other means of achieving his wants without actual giving away his information to the internet. We all know that nothing on the internet can never be fully erased. Therefore, any information provided in whatsoever manner, at the end of the day, remains for someone else to view and to some extent, use.

In the present day, the information that has been taken from us to form a huge database, i.e., big data is mainly to increase standard of living by hassle free customer experience as well as easier method of conducting businesses in the right area, with the right people.

To illustrate further, if one wants to book a flight ticket, there is certain information such as day, date, location, name, etc. that one has to fill in prior to booking the ticket. The right to privacy here, is sought, according to my understanding, by a person such as the Prime Minister or any other person of national importance. Laymen are not really affected by the above sought information being leaked and misused. It is humbly contended that, the Prime Minster for one, does not have to book tickets on normal platforms and therefore, has means of going via private airlines that has high security and without any risk of information being leaked.

And even if there is a need to regulate such privacy concerns, it may be done by combating technology with technology itself. Blockchain technology would provide a medium that is transparent and accessible for data mining in the right way. However, due to the fact that it is not editable, there can be no misuse of said data. It will further ensure access of nodes to the right persons at the right time, hence, guaranteeing the availability of information to people and businesses that work towards development and increasing the standard of living in the society.

Hence, it is
suggested the era of big data should be welcomed by the society as GDPR and other regulations provide for certain standard security to the privacy of the people. As stated by Chris Bell, a former U.S. Congressman, “
the price for freedom is external vigilance”

[1] Amy Affelt, Big Data, Big Opportunity, 21 Austl. L. Libr. 78 (2013).  

[2] Id.

[3] Jain, P. Gyanchandani and M. & Khare, N, Big data privacy: a technological perspective and review, J Big Data 3, 25 ,2016.

[4] Thomas M. Lenard & Paul H. Rubin, Big Data, Privacy and the Familiar Solutions, 11 J.L. Econ. & Pol’y 1 (2015).

[5] Id.

[6]  Cynthia Harvey, Big data Pros and Cons, 2018.

[7]Nils Gruschka, Vasileios Mavroeidis et al., Privacy Issues and Data Protection in Big Data: A Case Study Analysis under GDPR, Research Group of Information and Cyber Security, University of Oslo, Norway, 2018.

[8] France Bélanger and Robert E. Crossler ,Privacy in the Digital Age: A Review of Information Privacy Research in Information Systems, MIS Quarterly, 2011.

[9] Id.

[10] Van den Hoven et al.,Privacy and Information Technology, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ,2019.

[11] Asunción Esteve, The business of personal data: Google, Facebook, and privacy issues in the EU and the USA, International Data Privacy Law, 2017.

[12] Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India (2017) 10 SCC 1 (India).

[13] Supra note 7.

[14] Moira Paterson & Maeve McDonagh, Data Protection in an Era of Big Data: The Challenges Posed by Big Personal Data, 44 Monash U. L. Rev. 1 ,2018.  

[15]Amit Kumar, How Can Blockchain Transform the Big Data Industry?, Big Data Zone, (2019)

[16]Aashish Sharma, How Blockchain and Big Data Complement Each Other, (2019)

[17] Supra note 11.

[18]Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India (2017) 10 SCC 1 (India).

Leave a Comment