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+7 votes

What would be an effective way to protect consumer and user privacy from "Big Data", but also allow companies and other organizations to get the information they need?

asked in DATA360_Spring2019 by (1 point)

1 Answer

+5 votes

I think there has always been a contradiction in terms of expectations in many consumers' mindsets. On the one hand, they want their advertisements to be personally customized, they want to get the best search results as quickly as possible. Consumers want the convenience and quick analysis that big data brings. On the other hand, they also want to keep their privacy and have their data and personal information strictly protected. So I think the best way to unbound this contradiction is for the companies to provide total transparency and clarity to its users. Companies should clearly indicate what the data can be used for and give their users the choice if it is okay to do it or not. This kind of transparency helps both sides know what to and not to expect from each other.

answered by (1 point)

I would like to add a bit of my thoughts to this conversation. This isn’t purely about privacy anymore, but it is about the whole “I agree with all the terms above” things. Companies have the tradition of using complicated and almost unreadable language for their terms and conditions, so that companies can take the advantage of their users. Take Facebook for example. They have in their policy that users have to give up their data in order to use Facebook’s services. Before the incident of Cambridge Analytica, nobody really cares about their data being sold to advertising firm. Now when people are aware of the importance of their personal data, I think it is very crucial to have laws on making the terms and conditions readable by everyone. This has been done very effectively by Google and Apple with their app permission system, where all apps need to ask for the users’ permissions before use, and these permissions are very clearly labeled.


I agree that "terms of service" are a big problem. Everyone accepts them, and no one reads them. However, I'm not sure I agree that the smart-phone app requests are very effective. For instance, when an app requests "permission to access the phone's camera" and "permission to access the internet", that doesn't tell me whether the app will be sharing pictures from my camera back with the app's home servers. Or, if it asks to access my phone's contact list, is it also going to upload the full contact list to the company to store permanently and use it to build up a huge social network database to track who knows whom? It does a good job of checking whether I want an app to access a specific phone feature/capability, but it doesn't tell me HOW it will be used.