Reports  |  ,   |  March 1, 2014

Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values

Report prepared by the Executive Office of the President.
Prepared for the Obama Administration. 85 pages.



We are living in the midst of a social, economic, and technological revolution. How we communicate, socialize, spend leisure time, and conduct business has moved onto the Internet. The Internet has in turn moved into our phones, into devices spreading around our homes and cities, and into the factories that power the industrial economy. The resulting explosion of data and discovery is changing our world.

In January, you asked us to conduct a 90-day study to examine how big data will transform the way we live and work and alter the relationships between government, citizens, businesses, and consumers. This review focuses on how the public and private sectors can maximize the benefits of big data while minimizing its risks. It also identifies opportunities for big data to grow our economy, improve health and education, and make our nation safer and more energy efficient.

While big data unquestionably increases the potential of government power to accrue unchecked, it also hold within it solutions that can enhance accountability, privacy, and the rights of citizens. Properly implemented, big data will become an historic driver of progress, helping our nation perpetuate the civic and economic dynamism that has long been its hallmark. Big data technologies will be transformative in every sphere of life. The knowledge discovery they make possible raises considerable questions about how our framework for privacy protection applies in a big data ecosystem.

Big data also raises other concerns. A significant finding of this report is that big data analytics have the potential to eclipse longstanding civil rights protections in how personal information is used in housing, credit, employment, health, education, and the marketplace. Americans’ relationship with data should expand, not diminish, their opportunities and potential.

We are building the future we will inherit. The United States is better suited than any nation on earth to ensure the digital revolution continues to work for individual empowerment and social good. We are pleased to present this report’s recommendations on how we can embrace big data technologies while at the same time protecting fundamental values like privacy, fairness, and self-determination. We are committed to the initiatives and reforms it proposes. The dialogue we set in motion today will help us remain true to our values even as big data reshapes the world around us.

  • JOHN PODESTA, Counselor to the President
  • PENNY PRITZKER, Secretary of Commerce
  • ERNEST J. MONIZ, Secretary of Energy
  • JOHN HOLDREN, Director, Office of Science & Technology Policy
  • JEFFREY ZIENTS, Director, National Economic Council

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