“Big data” is a term used to describe the collection and aggregation of enormous amounts of information that can be processed and analyzed only by powerful computers. Large corporations are amassing personal information about individuals and constructing profiles that are as detailed as possible, with sensitive information that includes political opinions, religion, race, and medical conditions. And we might never know it’s out there.
 
This kind of data is generally collected to be sold to other businesses looking to capitalize on knowing whatever they can about consumers. But data brokers also engage in predatory business practices that target the poor, elderly, or other vulnerable populations. A Senate Commerce Committee report recently described how some marketers have used racial and other characteristics to identify “the most and least desirable consumers.”
 
The ACLU has joined with leading civil rights and media justice groups to endorse “Civil Rights Principles for the Era of Big Data.” These principles include:
 
  • Stopping high-tech profiling. 
  • Preserving constitutional principles in new technology. 
  • Enhancing individual control of personal information. 

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