Martin Zahariev is a Trade Mark and Design Attorney at the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, as well as a European Trade Mark and Design Attorney. He specialises in intellectual property litigation, domain names disputes, privacy, and arbitration. Martin Zahariev has an educational and scientific degree PhD in the professional field of "Public Communications and Information Sciences" at the University of Library and Information Technology (ULSIT), Sofia. His doctoral dissertation is entitled "Organisation and management of automated profiling in the context of personal data protection".

What are the benefits of using Big Data?

Big Data is the present and the future. Science and practice are not unanimous on even how to define this phenomenon, but in fact it is not only possible to collect and store in real-time any data – related to processes, phenomena, events, behaviours, etc., but it is done successfully. Of course, such a comprehensive dataset has a huge power, as the information it contains is a resource and it has value. The issue, however, is not only what is contained in the Big Data, but also how and for what purposes the information is processed.

How could Big Data lead to increase of sales and profits in business?

Every small, medium-sized, or large enterprise strives to improve the goods and services it provides and thus satisfy its clients. Big Data provides this instrument to companies so that the latter may examine customers’ behaviour, preferences, and demands in order to customise its services accordingly. This facilitates the creation of products and marketing strategies corresponding to people’s demands and addressing their needs. All this could definitely contribute to increase of sales.

What are the Big Data opportunities and risks for society and governments?

As every new technological solution or phenomenon, Big Data could be used constructively and creatively, but also for risky and adverse purposes. Possibilities have no limits – from improving the quality of services, through optimisation of public transport and urbanisation in general, to serious matters of public importance, such as combating tax fraud, money laundering, organised crime, and terrorism.

A few aspects of the risks could be outlined. The first one is proportionality – the data collection and processing in Big Data sets could turn into a means of repression and violation of fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the right to privacy, correspondence, freedom of conscience, and religion. Speaking in terms of Orwell’s novel, there is just one little step between Big Data and Big Brother. Another serious risk is related to the mere processing operations, and especially the use of automated algorithms for deep data mining, data matching, machine learning, etc. On the one hand, it is possible to create quite a detailed picture of our identity and our life, personal preferences and characteristics, etc. – something that is not always agreed to and which is not always necessary for the specific purposes of processing. On the other hand, artificial intelligence is still artificial. Irrespective of its data processing capacities, it is deprived of human feelings, emotions, the sense of good and bad, fair and unfair. Besides, even the perfect computer is exposed to possible errors. Therefore, GDPR provides for new rules for profiling and automated decision-making.

Should we welcome or be afraid of Big Data?

Big Data, profiling, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence in general could make life much easier, incredibly improving the its quality. At the same, however, we should be aware of the risks related to them. That is why, prominent scientists as Steven Hawking state that Artificial Intelligence may turn out to be one of the most dangerous threats to the mankind existence.

Yet, I have rather optimistic expectations and I consider that by adopting instruments, such as GDPR and the debated draft for e-privacy regulation, the use of technologies will be regulated in accordance to the fundamental democratic principles and the rule of law, which will ultimately facilitate the legitimate and beneficial integration of technologies in our life.