Big Data: Somebody’s Watching You…

It seems as if privacy advocates are starting to get some momentum lately.  There are countless headlines regarding privacy and the missing ability to opt-out of big data collection efforts.  CNN covered this issue in an episode of Inside Man recently.

One marketing company, Acxiom, has decided to publish a website that allows you to review a summary of the data they have collected about you.  That is so nice of Big Data, isn’t it?  I thought so.  However, there are a few caveats worth mentioning.

I went through the process and I couldn’t help but find it questionable.  In order to review the personal data about me they have accumulated, I had to provide a ton of personal information.  You know…to “verify” that the data I am requesting is actually mine.  I think that process makes a lot of sense, Big Data, if you weren’t already selling it to strangers.  Call me a skeptic if you wish, but it kind of makes me question whether or not there are ulterior motives, in addition to your never ending desire to be nice to me.  Am I just giving more personal information to a company who wants my personal information?  What are you up to, Big Data?

I must say that the website is aesthetically pleasing and the report output is definitely interesting.  It does give you some insight into the information marketers have and want about you.  The data about me was inaccurate in some cases.  Don’t worry, though!  Big Data gives you an opportunity to correct information that is not accurate so marketers can better target you.  Thanks?

This website also allows you to opt-out…if you provide all variations of your name, email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.  Uhhhhh….don’t you know that information already, Big Data?

Last, but not least, the data presented is done so at a very high level.  I’m sorry, but there is just no chance that this is all the information a big data company has collected about me.  It is just impossible.  Either this company is a weak one, or they are giving you just the information they feel you need to review.  I’m not so sure you are being forthcoming with me, Big Data.

It is still an interesting exercise.  Check it out if you dare!

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One thought on “Big Data: Somebody’s Watching You…

  1. I saw that episode of Inside Man and found it very unsettling that one’s personal information can be gathered so easily within minutes of doing internet searches. In fact, I am taking a seminar in a few weeks about how to use free internet resources to find people (it’s a task I have to do sometimes in my field.) Another interesting point on the show was that when we register on different websites and actually read the Terms and Conditions that we are agreeing to, often times it gives them permission to use your data. All the more reason to be more conscious of what we are signing up for, how much information we display on social networking sites, and who might be watching us…

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