Everywhere you look, the quantity of information in the world is soaring. Mankind created approximately 150 exabytes (billion gigabytes) of data in 2005. In 2010 it created 1,200 exabytes. Merely keeping up with this flood, and storing the bits tåhat might be useful, is difficult enough. Analysing it, to spot patterns and extract useful information, is harder still. Even so, the data deluge is already starting to transform business, government, science and everyday life. It has great potential for good—as long as consumers, companies and governments make the right choices about when to restrict the flow of data, and when to encourage it.