When former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden revealed that most activities of citizens globally were being kept tabs on through cooperation of telecommunication companies, IT companies, and other governmental organizations, it raised a hue and cry. When people realized that their confidential information was no longer secure anymore, it became an Orwellian nightmare come true.
It was also revealed that the NSA program, PRISM, allowed the US government to access Google and Yahoo! accounts of all American citizens. All this was possible largely due to the data flooding the Internet, which is, in other words, ‘big data’.
This has made citizens exhort companies and organizations to respect their privacy. In order for them to regain the confidence of the common people, business houses should be transparent about the data they have at their disposal. This can be done by letting consumers know how and where their information is being used. Some companies have started complying with that rule by making data transparent. But that is not enough, feel experts.
The critics of big data feel that there is no way of knowing how information is being used or how much companies are genuinely caring for their consumers’ well-being. They feel that by giving insights into consumers big data may be used irresponsibly.
Big data, however, also understands customers’ habits to provide benefits to them, besides to organizations. Consumers would save money on products or services they buy. On the other hand, companies would reward their loyal customers by understanding their requirements.
For big data to be used maturely, organizations have to invest time to build trust in their customers. They should make their customers be not wary of sharing information with them. This is the biggest challenge for organizations of all types.
Data privacy is still vague and tremendously complex, making it capable of creating a major trust deficit. Organizations, therefore, need to build strong privacy models for the benefit of their customers. These need to be conveyed to them in a very concise manner.
People from the legal profession need to understand privacy policies issues comprehensively. Companies should frame policies that give utmost importance to information privacy of their customers. Media organizations should highlight the breach of violation of privacy. Politicians would also have to treat any grievances on this front if they want to retain the goodwill of the people they represent.
Finally, consumers should put pressure organizations in all ways possible to ensure that the way their information is being gathered and used is made transparent to them.