By Alex Pentland
Note: Professor Alex Pentland of MIT’s Media Lab, will host a panel on Big Data 2.0: Next-Gen Privacy, Security, and Analytics, at the upcoming MIT CIO Symposium on May 18. This article focuses on one aspect of his work.
The exponential growth of mobile and ubiquitous computing together with big data analysis, are transforming the entire digital landscape, or “data ecology.” These shifts are having a dramatic impact on people’s personal data-sharing awareness and sensitivities as well as their cybersecurity: The more data created and shared, the more concerns rise. Recently, apprehensions have reached critical mass regarding privacy and the use of personal data, partially due to media exposure of cybersecurity breaches and intelligence scandals. The surge of mobile transactions, micropayments, and connected sensors in both private and public spaces is expected to further exacerbate this tension.
What’s needed is a “new deal on data” where security concerns are matched with transparency, control and privacy, and are designed into the core of any data-driven service .
In order to demonstrate that such a win-win data ecology is possible, my students and I have developed Enigma, a decentralized, computation platform enabling different participants to jointly store and run data computations while keeping the data completely private . Enigma promotes a viable digital environment by supporting four key requirements:
- That data always be encrypted
- That computation happens on encrypted data only
- That data owners will control access precisely, absolutely and with an audit trail
- That there are means to reliably enable payment to data owners for use of their data