What’s the Big Deal with Big Data and Privacy?

While the CCPA is an exciting development in privacy law, it covers only a percentage of American citizens and businesses.

If your data isn’t protected under the regulations of the CCPA, learn the basics of big data, potential pitfalls you face as a consumer, and how to stay protected when working with a business not under CCPA regulations.

What Is big data?

Big data refers to large amounts of structured and unstructured data. Businesses like Facebook can collect 500+ terabytes of new data every day. An ecommerce site won’t collect that much but with thousands of visitors a day, their data collections are certainly oversized.

But it’s not the amount of data that matters. It’s how the data is used that consumers should be concerned with.

How is big data used?

Analyzing big data can help companies identify new opportunities, optimize their processes, and boost their bottom line. Consider the following examples.

More efficient decision making

Rather than guessing or relying on a gut feeling, big data enables companies to analyze information immediately and make decisions based on the results.

Boost to bottom line

Learning more about demographics and buying habits can help businesses target their marketing and save resources, which can save money and boost profits simultaneously.

Improved products and services

By seeing what current products and services perform well and build loyalty, businesses can learn how to improve what they currently offer and develop new products and services with less risk.

Potential pitfalls of big data for consumers

Big data certainly helps companies learn about their customers, develop new products, and grow their reach. But this all comes with risk for the consumer.

The most concerning manner in which big data can hurt consumers is breaches. In 2019, over 4 billion data records were exposed in the first six months alone, suggesting a 50% or greater increase over the previous four years.

A data breach can leave your personal and financial data up for grabs on the dark web and little can be done to retrieve it. The damaging effects can last for years, even a lifetime in severe cases of identity theft or financial fraud.

Other concerns surrounding big data and privacy is targeted marketing based on vulnerability. Data brokers have been known to sell lists of people in delicate situations, like those fighting addiction or battling a disease. Such targeted marketing can cause debilitating anxiety or cause poor decision making.

For example, if someone is recovering from alcoholism, targeted marketing could expose them to alcohol-related merchandise.

Data and system errors are another concern. There have been reported cases of people losing access to their Medicaid, food stamps, and other benefits due to automated system errors. These errors are a direct result of people being wrongfully identified and put on watch-lists through data collection.

How to address big data and privacy

Consumers should be wary of big data. The CCPA does provide rights to Californians to control who has their data and what they can do with it. But until every American has that right, consumers need to fight for individual control over what companies can collect from them and how they can use it.

There needs to be reasonable limits on how personal data can be collected and consumers need the right to correct errors and request data be removed. Consumers should fight for transparency, security, and responsible handling of personal data.

But until these rights are granted to every American citizen through state and/or federal legislation, there are several proactive steps you can take as a consumer not protected under the CCPA.

3 tips for consumers without privacy laws

If you’re working with a business not held under CCPA, keep the following tips in mind to control what information you’re revealing online.

Use a variety of  privacy tools

Michelle Finneran Dennedy, CEO of DrumWave has some recommendations as to which ones you should use.

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Delete third-party cookies

Deleting generic cookies on your computer is often recommended to free up hard disk space and improve computing power. But deleting third-party cookies is more about security. You can block or delete third-party cookies manually in your browser settings or use a cleanup tool to automatically delete these privacy-invading cookies.

Use a private search engine

Any popular search engine provides information to websites you visit. Keep your searches private by using a search engine that doesn’t track you, like DuckDuckGo. You’ll be able to search safely without sharing your IP address or other types of information.

The future of big data

If you don’t live in California, don’t give up hope on similar big data and privacy legislation. There is hard work being done at both the state and federal level to grant privacy rights to all American citizens. And some companies are even extending privacy rights to consumers outside of the Golden State.

But until all businesses are proactive about privacy, taking a few extra steps to protect your data can provide you with peace of mind and priceless security.

Stick around for our next blog that explains how the CCPA is affecting all Americans and how you can fight for federal privacy data laws.

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