From the makers of the NSA comes to you “White House Study on Big Data: Bad”

From Ars Technica:

“Next week, White House counselor John Podesta is set to present the results of a 90-day “big data” study, commissioned by President Barack Obama in January as part of a wave of NSA reform announcements. According to the Associated Press, Podesta’s study will hinge largely on the discriminatory potential of the mountains of data accumulated by public and private firms alike.

The AP report used private data clustering as an example of potential abuse, describing customers lumped into an “Ethnic Second-City Struggler” category. Loan applicants could be lumped into that category based on geographic and social-media information, flagging them for higher-interest loans than they’d be offered as anonymous, off-the-street customers.

Additionally, job applicants could be pre-declined based on the locations and durations of recent residencies, among other factors. Podesta didn’t speak to these specific examples of discrimination, nor did he confirm what recommendations he’ll make to the president in the wake of the study, other than a desire to update the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, which he co-authored. (ECPA reform has been languishing in Congress for quite some time now.)”

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