The following is an excerpt from Information Management article entitled, In Unfolding U.S. Data Surveillance Program, Big Data and Governance Lessons for Business.

The personal data privacy concerns nor the government safety intentions with this unfolding data surveillance story are not to be taken lightly. But, as massive data volumes are increasingly sold on the business side as a silver bullet to find competitive advantage, there are takeaways for business uses of huge, nebulous data sets, according to the EIM and enterprise security experts we reached out to over the last few days.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute, says such a massive dragnet of information is, ethics aside, the “perfect big data use” because of the volume and variety of data, but also the wide-reaching and sometimes tangential connections. In research done by his advisory, issues of privacy remain a top consumer concern over the last eight years, Ponemon says. However, over that same time period, the notion of personal data being totally secure and outside of the government or business view – particularly with so much sharing over social networks – has eroded toward a “fatalistic” consumer perspective on their own data.

Ponemon says that businesses should be taking note of the importance of governance and process issues related to this particular use of huge, unstructured data volumes.

“No organization wants to be viewed as a bad guy in the eyes of their customers. It’s not just an embarrassment, but there’s a cost associated with reputation, with data stewardship. If you think about the government scenario that’s unfolding now, there’s a natural story about governance, too. If the government decides to use all of the information that’s available, you’d expect that, basically, they’d have a process in place where leakage about the program would be in place for people who are stepping out of the [program’s] bounds. What we’re learning about the whistleblower is that the government didn’t necessarily have a good internal process because they allowed a 29-year-old … contactor doing, according to him, wiretapping and accessing this data,” Ponemon says. “It shows that governance can be such an important element to anything that presents a risk. Maybe this could be a wake-up call toward processes of handling big data, securing data sources, minimizing data risks for even organization’s dealing with consumer information.”

When you get a chance I’d encourage you to click over and read the whole thing.