Target Co. estimates that at least 70 million individuals may have had information including their "names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses" stolen in a recent data breach. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Cell towers are constantly tracking the location of mobile phones. And that data, federal courts have ruled, is not constitutionally protected. Steve Greer/ hide caption

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Google, like Facebook, Microsoft and other Internet companies, is concerned that data requests from U.S. surveillance agencies could ultimately damage its reputation in the U.S. and overseas. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Shwetak Patel (foreground), a MacArthur Fellow, recognized that every device in a home has a unique signature that can be used to track energy usage. The data collected by Patel's system showed that digital video recorders were responsible for 11 percent of this home's power use, just one example of The Human Face of Big Data. © Peter Menzel 2012/from The Human Face of Big Data hide caption

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Mobile apps and devices track a user's health statistics. But those data are sometimes sold and can end up in the hands of employers and insurance companies. hide caption

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Researchers are increasingly using cloud computing to discover new drugs and medical treatments. Cloud computing is often cheaper and quicker than in-house computing. hide caption

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