Big data is an enabling technology. That is, it enables both risks and rewards, according the skills and judgements of those who engage it (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/it-pro/business-it/how-big-data-can-result-in-bad-data-20130720-hv11k.html?rand=8744926). Human beings have never been known to turn down an enabling technology, regardless of the consequence that it will enable catastrophes as well as rewards.
Take the motor vehicle: “There have been more traffic related fatalities around the world, since the first automobile was made, than all the deaths from all global conflicts over the past 3000 years combined” (http://www.shaundejager.com/psychology-of-our-driving-culture-affects-our-safety/). With cars the carnage has been sufficient for us to impose some burden of legal care on drivers (without stellar success). No such sanction, or even systematic care, is ever likely to be the case with the potentially catastrophic misinterpretation of big data by hamburger driven office workers.
Edward Snowden is right: by collecting limitless data on all of us, the American “security” juggernaut, Prism, and its industry analogues, have limitless potential to generate expensive errors or even tragedy through the poor judgements of misguided human controllers. At a national level, Australia is deeply enmeshed in the activities of the United States Defense establishment’s big data plays, both because of the wholesale plundering of our private and business communications, but formally through intelligence establishments such as those at Pine Gap (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/it-pro/security-it/australian-outback-station-at-forefront-of-us-spying-arsenal-20130720-hv10h.html). That is, whatever brings those bunnies to grief in the name of security will also bring us to grief. Not if, but when.