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UK government in talks to use Hadoop for big data analytics

But the government is keen to avoid becoming 'Big Brother'

The UK government is in discussions with Cloudera - a distributor of Hadoop-based software and services for the enterprise - to determine how it can best make use of big data technologies.

Speaking to Techworld at the IP Expo in London yesterday, Doug Cutting, creator of Hadoop and chief architect at Cloudera, said that he had met with the UK government's Policy Exchange team earlier in the week, to discuss how it can use big data "without becoming Big Brother".

"That is the primary concern actually of how they roll this out - how they can do that without freaking people out and becoming Big Brother," he said.

Cutting said that private sector companies like Google and eBay have a fair amount of knowledge about their customers, but they also have a very clear motive to maintain those customers' trust, because if they lose it they will lose their business.

In the public sector, things are not so clear-cut, said Cutting. Governments want to reap the benefits of big data, but are worried about causing a scandal.

"They don't have a profit motive to make them want to use this but they know there are efficiencies. So they are looking for efficiencies where they can save money, govern better for less money, without causing a scandal. That, in a nutshell, is the problem they're trying to solve."

While the thought of the government using big data to profile its citizens may sound like a major invasion of privacy, Cutting said that the intelligence community is heavily restricted by laws dictating what it can and cannot do.

"My experience with government intelligence is those guys are very careful - much more concerned about preserving privacy than folks in industry - because they don't want to be the subject of some legal inquiry, and they've got clear regulations," he said.

Cutting also told Techworld that Cloudera is hiring a UK managing director and plans to open an office in Reading in early 2013, with Logica as a strategic partner.

"We want to establish our European beachhead in the UK," said Cutting. "We've already got some business here and we see it growing."

One British company that Cloudera is already working with is gaming firm King.com. The company has implemented Cloudera Enterprise to get greater value from the massive amounts of data and information they generate from gamers across multiple platforms.

"In the long term, I think Hadoop is going to have a larger and larger presence in enterprise computing," said Cutting.

"We'll become the dominant platform for enterprise computing. We're a way away from that now. At the present it's very much a complimentary technology; it's young. But I think it has the right properties to take over more and more enterprise software."

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