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Big data has created a complex new information and infrastructure landscape. Big tech companies that have capitalised on its three core features — data abundance, digital connectivity, and ubiquitous technology — are the new oligarchies and are increasingly controlling the capabilities essential for a functioning society.

Big data has profound impacts on society. It enables everything from access to knowledge and global communication, to delivery of services and infrastructure. However, big data is exacerbating existing national security threats and creating new and unpredictable ones. It can be weaponised for war, providing information dominance and kinetic targeting capability. Big data has the capacity to enable or eliminate the barriers of entry for surveillance and oppression. It drives information warfare as well as social and political interference.

An understanding of the potential harms from the misuse of big data and big tech is beginning to emerge, but much of its impact remains obscure. It is important for Australia to understand and counter the threats enabled by big data at a critical time for regional security.

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