Skip navigation

Big Data is an incredibly hyped concept in the common discourse. This comes as no surprise in an era of rampant neoliberalism, where practically any government intervention is seen as “too much” and privatization is seen as the solution to all our economic woes. Thus, when the layperson began to realize just how pervasive Big Data is, much controversy was stirred over the notion that Big Data is an arm of “Big Government.” Sure, the problematics of the NSA’s surveillance methods are an easy target for the modern neoliberalist, but what is interesting to me is the fact that Big Data is actually a weapon of Big Consumerism. The very purpose of the collection of such large sums of data, as Mayer-Schönberger presents, is to gather information that will better predict certain trends. In essence, laissez-faire economics — a distinctly neoliberal policy — is a driving factor behind the “invasive” data collection that is hyped by many media outlets as being anywhere from creepy to infringing upon rights to privacy. But government regulation wouldn’t solve this issue, either, as their track-record with pervasive data storage isn’t quite clean either. So which type of Big Data is the lesser of the two evils: that of the government or that of corporations?