Big data and national security: a guide for Australian policymakers


New research published by the Lowy Institute warns that the implications of mass data storage and analysis - known as 'big data' - are underappreciated in policy and public discussions. Author Miah Hammond-Errey says national security threats related to the big data landscape are only beginning to surface, and that the use of technology for influence and interference both at an individual and national scale has the power to challenge democratic principles and institutions.

Among the paper's key findings:

  • Data abundance, digital connectivity, and ubiquitous technology now enable near complete coverage of human lives across the planet often in real-time. The Covid-19 pandemic, by forcing more interactions online and greater social reliance on technology, has significantly added to the global pool of data.
  • Advances in the scale, application and commercial uses of data significantly outpace regulation of the big data landscape. Technical and analytical capabilities that are essential for the functioning of societies are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small number of commercial entities.
  • The implications of big data for surveillance, real or potential interference, and kinetic war are underappreciated in policy and public discussions. Identifying and protecting the uses of critical data should be a national security priority for government on par with safeguarding critical digital infrastructure.

The new Lowy Institute Analysis paper is available for download at


Miah Hammond-Errey has more than 15 years of experience leading tactical, operational, and strategic analysis and communications activities for the Australian government and has represented Australia overseas in Europe and Asia. She is a Senior Analyst at ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre. Her PhD examined the impact of big data on intelligence production and national security in Australia. Miah has a Master of National Security Policy (Advanced) with Honours from the Australian National University, a Master of Criminology from Sydney University Law School, and a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University.


Shane McLeod
Manager, Media and Communications
+61 409 461 795