“When businesses are allowed to gather personal information, predict your behaviour and make decisions based on it, this is the information wild west. Welcome to the nightmare.” Richard Hollis, director of information security consultancy the Risk Factory, believes that the ability of big data and predictive analytics systems to profile customers is generating “huge problems” in privacy terms for both online, and offline, consumers that are, as yet, poorly understood. He explains: “It’s all about the data these days and everyone wants it – states, governments, businesses. And people don’t understand the implications because they want cheap hotel rooms and the like. But the big question is, who owns the data?” For example, if Hollis went to an online pharmacy to buy some medicine, would his activity information belong to him or the shop in question – particularly if it was going to be used for marketing purposes to personalise offers in a bid to get him to buy more in future? He warns: People are completely in the dark. They don’t know how much their data is worth to companies and they can’t see the negative consequences of a lack of transparency. They don’t understand that companies are in […]
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