Information agencies are groups, businesses, or public entities that store and manage information. Libraries, tech companies, websites, cloud services, and government agencies can all be considered information agencies if they store and aggregate different types of data and information. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency keeps information like the “world factbook," which aggregates data on different countries. This provides a tool for researchers and other government entities to use to understand and analyze the effects of things like disease, gun violence, or population growth.
As the twenty-first century has progressed, the importance of information agencies has grown, and agencies have proliferated with demand. Nearly everything, from movies and books to legal documents and personal data, is stored, accessed, and tracked via information agencies. Companies like Netflix and Amazon provide services that meet the entertainment needs of patrons, while others like the CIA or credit bureaus keep track of vital digital data. As more and more industries, services, and information are moving toward digital storage and access, the importance of agencies that store and manage data has increased to the point of necessity.
While the importance of these agencies has ballooned, the challenges they face have also increased—especially problems related to privacy and security. The first is a question of ownership. As data collection, aggregation, and analysis have become all-encompassing, the question of who owns the data that is collected has been challenging to answer. Data is something that can be bought and sold, but it is not tangible, and therefore, the question of what is allowed to be done with data is an important legal question that information agencies will have to answer in the future. Security is another critical challenge that these agencies face, especially securing data against the attacks of hackers who wish to gain the value of the data at the expense of the people the data describes. The security of people’s data is likely to be one of the main battlefronts of crime in the coming decades, and keeping data safe has become an increasing challenge.