The Network GRC Blog
Is Big Data Ethical?
February 13 2013
by Jimmy Lin, VP, Product Management & Corporate Development, The Network
As organizations continue to grapple with Big Data, the benefits and drawbacks of this information overload are coming into focus. On the one hand, analytic tools available today enable companies to quickly assess large amounts of information yielding valuable insights into consumer preferences. On the flipside, Big Data has also created a host of privacy and data security issues.
Matt Kelly covered one such data privacy breach in his Compliance Week article entitled, “Big Data, Big Ethics Questions.” Target committed a serious blunder last year when, in looking at purchasing data, it determined one of its teenage shoppers was pregnant, and began sending her targeted maternity-specific coupons in the mail. The father of the girl received the good news by way of good old fashioned marketing. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy and Target found itself at the center of a public relations crisis.
Was what Target did illegal? No, but it certainly called the company’s credibility into question. There are other seemingly harmless uses of big data all around us. Ever use your grocery store discount card? Each time you swipe, your purchasing information is being shared with food suppliers so that they may sell you more.
On the heels of Data Privacy Day, let us not overlook Google, Facebook and Twitter, who have had their share of criticism when it comes to data privacy. With privacy policies in a constant state of flux, these organizations aim to collect as much data on consumers as possible to better market to those consumers. While awareness is key, technology to help manage the ongoing data sprawl is necessary.
Clearly, Big Data is a powerful thing, and with power comes great responsibility. To avoid such ethical quandaries as the one Target faced, organizations today need technology solutions that ensure strict adherence to global data privacy rules, data protection and overall compliance
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