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The federal government has released a report about big data and privacy. It's not only a broad overview of the entire big data concept, it also has several salient points for online advertisers.
Here's what you need to know about the White House report on big data.
1. The Good Outweighs the Bad
The underlying premise of big data is the storage of virtually every piece of noteworthy information gleaned from the online habits of millions of people. Obviously, there are certain, inherent risks associated with that practice. The data could be stored at a location with subpar data security. That data could then be mined by hackers and used for nefarious purposes.
That noted, there is still an upside to big data. As the name implies, it provides a wealth of information that can be used by advertisers for marketing purposes. The federal government recognizes these advantages, and will approach the subject of big data, and potential legislative initiatives, accordingly. In other words, the federal government doesn't want to over-regulate big data and place a stranglehold on effective online commerce.
2. Still there is Talk of Legislation
Even though the government recognizes that the good outweighs the bad and that it's probably best to let market forces dictate the rules concerning the collection of data, there is still a hint of some level of legislation. That introduces complexity into the equation because then businesses that use big data must ensure compliance. In the grand scheme of things, companies operate more efficiently when they are self-governed, but the temptation to act irresponsibly is also there. Companies that use big data would be wise to act in an ethical manner voluntarily, or the government will step in and force them to do so.
3. The Internet is Forever
As soon as a website visitor clicks on a link, that click is recorded and that visitor can't do anything about it. Many of the routine actions that people perform online are recorded somewhere. Those recordings are persisted in an online database and will remain there ad infinitum. If people are expecting online privacy, then they had better purchase some proxies and set up fake accounts. Otherwise, their online habits are an open book.
4. People Need Education
Do most website visitors even understand the concept of big data? Probably not. The White House report highlights the necessity of education concerning this relatively new addition to the Information Age. Consumers need to understand their role as they browse around online and also be aware of the risks as well. Some people have recommended that an education along these lines begin as early as elementary school.
The federal government report on big data contains some relevant news for online advertisers. Some of that is good news, some of it is cause for concern. Advertisers who rely on big data to reach a target market would do well to pay attention to the report.