Big Data, Big Brother, and Big Questions
We should all be aware of our credit score—the important number used to determine interest rates, insurance costs, and even the ability to get hired at certain jobs. What you may not be aware of is how big data is being used to score you on many areas of your daily life, as reported in this article from CNN.
There are many uncomfortable ways data is being used. For example, another CNN piece reports on how data brokers have been selling lists of rape victims, AIDS patients, and seniors with dementia to marketers.
Although this has been brought to Congress’s attention, it boggles my mind as to why marketers need this information and what they will do with it. I urge you to watch the video in the CNN piece I pointed out. It’s scary and disturbing.
Another article on CNN explains that companies are using big data to garner information, but the information may not always be correct.
Now, let’s take a look at security issues and the risk of our data being stolen and used against us. On Forbes, a writer looks at the big data security issues faced by companies that gather information on consumers. This is explored in even more depth on ComputerWeekly.com with the ways that big data can be made more secure through the use of tools and methodologies.
So is there a more ethical approach to conducting market research and using big data? This TechTarget article explores that issue and looks at how the US Congress went about initiating investigations into data brokers. Investigations of data collection then spread to Europe, as an article on The Washington Post’s website discusses.
These government requests called for Google, in particular, to give consumers information on what is being tracked and to get consent on what data is collected. Now, I'll let you in on a shocker: The two articles that I just mentioned were written in 2012. Has anything been done since then to answer the ethical questions posed by data marketers and big data?
I’ll leave you to ponder these questions: How much information is too much information? How do we stop data marketers from abusing big data?