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Phoenicia University

Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

Assignment 2 GENG 214

Summer 2017
Dr Fadl Bdeir

Ethical Issues with big data:

Consider the recent $16 Billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook.

WhatsApps meteoric growth to over 450 million mobile monthly users over the
past four years was in part based on a No Ads philosophy. It was reported that
SnapChat declined an earlier $3 Billion acquisition offer from Facebook.
Snapchats primary value proposition is an ephemeral mobile message that
disappears after a few seconds to protect message privacy. Why is Facebook
willing to pay Billions for a mobile messaging company? Demographics and Data.
Instead of spending time on Facebook, international and younger users are
increasingly spending time on mobile messaging services that dont carry ads
and offer heightened privacy by design. In missing this mobile usage, Facebook is
lacking the mobile data. With WhatsApp, Facebook immediately gains access to
the mobile data of hundreds of millions of users and growing. While WhatsApp
founder Jan Koum promises no ads, no games and no gimmicks and has a board
seat to back it up, Facebook has a pretty strong incentive to monetize the
WhatsApp mobile data it will now control.

Big Data is about much more than just correlating database tables and creating
pattern recognition algorithms.

The era of Big Data has begun. Computer scientists, engineers, physicists,
economists, mathematicians, political scientists, bio-informaticists, sociologists,
and other scholars are clamoring for access to the massive quantities of
information produced by and about people, things, and their interactions.
Diverse groups argue about the potential benefits and costs of analyzing genetic
sequences, social media interactions, health records, phone logs, government
records, and other digital traces left by people. Significant questions emerge. Will
large-scale search data help us create better tools, services, and public goods? Or
will it usher in a new wave of privacy incursions and invasive marketing? Will
data analytics help us understand online communities and political movements?
Or will it be used to track protesters and suppress speech?

Big data raises multiple ethical concerns and questions, some of which are you
need to research more:
1- Data breaches that can reveal personal information
2- What are the rules and guidelines of anonymzing data before using or
selling it
3- Unethical actions based on data interpretations (an insurance company
declining to sell insurance for individuals after checking their genetic
sequence, or declining to recall a product if the costs associated of the
recall is higher than human pain claims (deaths for ex) as per the movie
the fight club.
4- Might lead to discrimination, since you will be able to buy complete
profile of your employees or a job applicant.
5- There are no mature legal requirements for how to protect privacy while
using big data analytics.

You are to discuss philosophically and critically based on ONE of the three ethical
theories we discussed in class (utilitarianism, Deontology, and Virtue ethics) the
ethical considerations of big data science and how would this theory approach
the big data topic. What are the constraints that your selected theory will impose
on such science to make it acceptable ethically if any.
You are required to delve deep in the discussion and include philosophical
references to support your argument.

The assignment should be 3 pages excluding the cover page. Double spacing, 12
size font. This will give you the chance to have deep discussion. Remember to
select only one theory.
Submission file name: StudentName_assignment2
Submission deadline: 14 August 2017