Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Your Data

An aspect that hasn’t been touched on in regards to Big Data is the handling of consumers’ data exhaustion. The average consumer has no idea how companies are acquiring and distributing their data. There are ‘data brokers’ that have acquired all of our data, yet refuse to mention how it was attained. Coupled with perpetually changing privacy policies, it is almost as though the companies are attempting to encrypt the handling of data.

California’s Right to Know Act (AB 1291) is attempting to address this problem.  This will require a company to give access to users’ data that have been stored and which companies, online or offline, it has been sold it upon request, free of charge. Currently, California law dictates that a customer has the right to acquire a list of companies that have your personal data for marketing purposes (junk mail, spam, etc).

The new act, coupled with their preexisting law, will bring California’s transparency law into the digital age.  Users will be able to track how their information is being trafficked (online ads, data brokers, 3rd party apps) and the flow of their data from online interactions.

“It’s no just about knowing what a company is sharing, it’s about knowing what a company is storing.”

Let it be known that these new laws will not prohibit the selling and transferring of data between companies or provide additional security measures for storing and anonymization. The act is merely about transparency and access for the user.

The new law has three safeguards to ensure compliance of smaller startups:

  1. They may choose to not store unnecessary data
  2. Provide automated user notification when data is disclosed, if it is too cumbersome for the company to respond to each individual request.
  3. They only have to provide the user an accounting per 12 months.

Though this is a very important step for our digital age, I can’t help but to compare this to YouTube’s situation with their users with regards to them having to pay their users for their content. Might be a hard metaphor to follow, but we, the people, are providing these companies fine-tuned profiting opportunities. Going back to YouTube, users eventually started getting paid for their content, as they were the reason for the sites increased traffic, ad revenue. See where I’m going?

I suspect that one day, if it’s not already, a popular question would be, “Where’s my check?”


1 comment:

  1. I think something else that would be interesting to consider in this conversation is jurisdiction. I think of cloud computing as analogous to having an offshore bank account in the Cayman's. If the processing and storage of the data is taking place outside of California (or the U.S. for that matter) can the state authorities have jurisdiction in that area?

    Another thing that this brings up is I think that if the truths are divulged we'll see an emergence of people that fight the system by attempting to conduct life transactions outside of the digital world so as not to be "tracked". Just as there are people that choose their diet based on how the food was prepared and if there are any ethical issues with how the food was treated before it arrived on their place, there will also be people that will choose to conduct business and live life outside of the reaches of Big Data... if that's even possible.