Companies that don't examine what big data means to them today may not be around tomorrow, according to Malcolm Crompton, the managing director of privacy consulting firm Information Integrity Solutions and former privacy commissioner of Australia.
Crompton addressed privacy professionals at a talk jointly hosted by Norton Rose, McAfee and the International Association of Privacy Professionals Australia/New Zealand this morning.
He expressed his dismay over Australia being left behind, even on a conversational level, when it comes to big data.
"I'm absolutely astounded by the lack of discussion in this country about big data. It's just not happening. It's happening everywhere else in the world; it's going to be one of the biggest waves to break over us that we've ever seen, and what it means for our personal lives is still being worked out," he said.
"Please start looking at what big data means. Start thinking about the organisation," he urged audience members, saying that those who don't start thinking about big data are going to go under.
Crompton highlighted that in other parts of the world, robust discussions are already in place, and funding is being provided to simply experiment with big data.
"The US government is trying to facilitate thinking on proper use of big data by actually, in the last couple of weeks, handing out grants to government agencies to begin to experiment with big data the right way around," he said.
"One of the interesting things for government, as well as the private sector, is that almost all of the future new data is going to be generated in the private sector. For the government to understand the world around it, the government's going to have to participate one way or another."
Cyber White Paper more than security
Crompton also lambasted the Australian Government over the presentation of its Cyber White Paper, concerned that participants only perceived it as a security-based initiative.
"The Cyber White Paper is not a cybersecurity whitepaper — that one popped out from the broadband department a year or so back," he said.
Although the discussion paper has a section relating to cybersecurity — "Security and resilience in the online environment" — it is only one of the five sections slated for review. The other areas are "Digital citizenship in a networked society", "Protecting and promoting Australia's digital economy", "International partnerships and internet governance" and "Investing in Australia's digital future".
Crompton emphasised that the Cyber White Paper's real purpose isn't simply security, but rather to provide better direction to all government agencies and departments.
"The Cyber White Paper is actually a very important document, because it's a realisation that ... letting a broadband department and an attorney's department and a defence department and all the other departments do their bit hasn't worked. There needs to be some leadership from the centre if the Australian online economy is to go somewhere at the same speed as the rest of the world," he said.