Big Data Surveillance: Monitoring the Public from Multiple Stakeholder Perspectives

Group Member: Yuxin Liu, Kyle Chan, Bingyan Qian

In today’s society, the emergence of big data has led to capitalism and government monitoring of people’s data. On the one hand, it helps people to choose their favorite things more efficiently, on the other hand, it also involves the problem of privacy leakage.

Governmental Perspective: National Security and The NSA

The United States National Security Agency is a prominent example of a governmental group to utilize Big Data for Country security. They look at data from large numbers of Internet companies to discern security. Although these measures can potentially ensure the security of the Internet, there are still citizens who consider them an invasion of privacy.

NSA Surveillance

Corporate Perspective: Facebook’s Data Monetization

Facebook, a social media giant, offers a striking example of corporate Big Data utilization. By collecting user data, Facebook customizes advertisements, thereby monetizing user attention. While this leads to significant corporate profits and personalized user experiences, it has also raised concerns about privacy, data ownership, and informed consent.

Facebook Data

Individual Citizens Perspective

These “smart” devices all fall under the umbrella of what the digital-studies scholar David Golumbia and I call “luxury surveillance”—that is, surveillance that people pay for and whose tracking, monitoring, and quantification features are understood by the user as benefits.


The applications of Big Data in surveillance activities bring both incredible benefits and ethical concerns that differ depending on one’s perspective as a government, a corporation, or an individual. The key to navigating this complex landscape lies in informed discourse and robust regulatory frameworks that can effectively balance the pros and cons. With Big Data being an irreversible trend, taking a multi-stakeholder approach to its ethical implications is not just advisable but imperative.

Reference List:

American Civil Liberties Union. (n.d.). NSA Surveillance. Retrieved September 13, 2023, from

Quercia, D., Las Casas, D., Pesce, J. P., Stillwell, D., Kosinski, M., Almeida, V., & Crowcroft, J. (2012). Facebook and privacy: The balancing act of personality, gender, and relationship currency. In Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 306-313).

Gilliard, C. (2022, October). The Rise of ‘Luxury Surveillance’. The Atlantic. Retrieved from