The recent exposes surrounding the MySejahtera app show that some of the recent afflictions plaguing the nation may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Why would certain business people and other individuals be so interested in an app that collects data about the health status of millions of Malaysians?
All the talk of Big Data reminds me of what the firm Cambridge Analytica did several years ago when it allegedly used surveys, personality profiles and social media data to target election campaign messages to different groups of voters in the US. Cambridge Analytica reportedly also tried to get involved in Malaysia ahead of the 2018 general election.
In this digital age, data mining has become a huge billion-dollar business prospect worldwide. It is lucrative, and unsurprisingly, there is much commercial interest. The global data mining tools market is expected to be worth $1.3bn by the year 2027, according to one market report.
Even though we have laws that restrict the sale of personal data to a third party, such as the Personal Data Protection Act 2010, the lure of big bucks may still be motivating certain individuals to invest heavily in Big Data ventures.
Perhaps it’s pure greed. After all, the Friedman doctrine suggests that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits“, and that may well be what is fuelling interest in Big Data.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim recently raised concerns over the sale of the MySejahtera app to a private company.
As for me, I’m going to write my particulars on a piece of paper – if there is such an option – instead of scanning with an app from now on.
Vijay Shanmugam is an Aliran reader based in Taiping