The digital world of the 21st century is increasingly the world of automatic decision making. In such a world, an ever larger number of tasks are relegated to computers which gather and process data as well as suggest or make decisions silently and with little supervision. This situation has been made possible by a transfer of a staggering portion of our daily lives from the offline world to the Internet. It is a truism that automation would be impossible without our willing participation on the Internet. We freely take part in social networks, post on blogs, and send our emails. On the other hand, it is equally true that we are increasingly monitored by the state, by profit‐maximizing corporations and by our fellow citizens and that these methods of monitoring are becoming smarter. Vast amounts of data which have become available and which we contribute, form what we today call “big data”.1 This is then harvested for connections and correlations and profiles created that can be used for commercial and other purposes. We fear this world but are also dependant on it. The creation of these profiles and their usage is an uncharted territory for the social sciences as much as it is a strange territory for the regulators.
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7th International Conference Computers, Privacy & Data Protection, 2014