Picture this scenario, if you will. You run regularly, and you’ve been doing it for years. Now you’re middle-aged, and you’ve been doing a bang-up job staying in shape and keeping up the running. Sure, you’re older and age does take its toll inevitably, but you’ve managed to slow down the march of time to a respectable degree. Life is good.
Last Christmas, your spouse gave you a nice piece of wearable tech that keeps track of time, distance, and heart rate, and sends the info to the company’s website where you have an account, and can check your progress.
So, one day, you decide to adjust your life insurance policy and add more coverage, only to be rejected because, according to the insurance company, there are concerns about your heart, based on readings taken after your recent running sessions.
It could happen …
Big Data, Little Privacy?
While the above scenario hasn’t happened yet, there are circumstances developing where perhaps someday it could. After all, does that website where your training stats get sent to have a no-share policy in force? How safe is your personal data there?
That’s exactly the problem with Big Data; it collects so much information about people, places, and things, that privacy can become a casualty in the process. Whenever new tech comes along, it seems that the law is several steps behind it, scrambling to catch up.
Who owns the data collected by various sensors, either from wearable tech, appliances at home, or scanners at commercial locations such as shopping malls? This is new data, collected by new means, and it needs new laws and guidelines. In the meantime, if you own a business, you need to be mindful of these issues.
One thing’s for sure: businesses these days must strike a balance between being a trust-worthy, law-abiding company, and gathering information that can be potentially useful in creating successful marketing strategies.
The article “How Does Mobile and Wearable Tech Affect Your Big Data Privacy Policies?” offers some guidelines for how to handle these specific privacy issues. Much of what the article says can be boiled down to this:
Don’t Collect More Information Than You Need To.If you’re a running shoe store, you don’t need information on customers’ pets, for example. This is the kind of superfluous data that doesn’t help you one iota, and is just a potential intrusion into customers’ lives. More is not always better.
Be Picky Who You Share It With. Granted, there can be certain advantages to sharing data with third parties, but you need to be really careful who you partner with. It would be most prudent to check out what their data privacy policies are. The last thing you need is to share data with a third party that has a very fast and loose policy about sharing. Before you know it, that data that you collected (and you just know that the customer will eventually realize you did it) could be all over the place, including in the hands of some very sketchy people.
Destroy It When You’re Done. Don’t be a data hoarder. Once you collect the data and have finished using it for whatever campaign or strategy you have in mind, get rid of it. The whole practice of collecting personal data is iffy enough without keeping terabytes of people’s personal information socked away for no good purpose.