When we talk about ‘Big Data’ and ‘Data Analytics’, we intend recording extensive digital footprints of the users and use them for analytical purposes. Some of those data are commercially sold or shared with third parties. A simple example, if you search for something on Google, you will notice ads on your facebook wall that are similar to your searches. The digital footprints we leave during our web search is passed to the social media platforms, to display information that is targetted to us.
In this post, I will try to start a discussion on the collection and usage of Big Data from shari’ah perspective. Let me post some fundamental questions, based on what we can carry our conversation forward.
- Shari’ah respects the privacy of the individuals, and this can be seen as an objective of the shari’ah as well. Having said that, to what extent are we allowed to break that privacy? In other words, how far can we record the digital footprints of a user, with or without his consent? (Is the notification of storing browser cookies considered a valid consent?)
- The data are often used to manipulate the user’s views and choices. For example: displaying information, ads, news or videos that are targetted to him, based on his interests, friend circle, groups, interactions and other factors. Is there any condition which we need to consider in this case?
- Often important decisions are made based on those data. For example, the decision to release funds, or even considering someone as a potential criminal. Sometimes, those big data can be used to make judgements. What is the shari’ah status of such decisions that are based on the analytics of digital footprints and how much can we rely on them?
Please share your views. Thank you.