Three days after the European Union Data Protection Day (“Full speed ahead towards reliable and modern EU data protection laws”) and the Internet Association Data Privacy Day it is time to look at data privacy in 2013. Since big data is the new oil/gold/sliced bread, it seems smart to store it in a safe or a bread box or wherever you keep your oil.
Connie Thompson of KomoNews argues that online shops and internet business are the out of control wild west of data collection. Gold diggers moving westwards to mine your data and enjoy the benefits of their new riches. And pushing the final frontier to new limits, the cowboys and girls on the fastest horses, the Google gang. Right? Wrong.
While we usually hear how governments try to protect citizens’ data from companies, Google in a coalition with other giants has turned the game upside down by lobbying for an update to a 1986 privacy protection law supported by the United States Electronic Communications Privacy Act enabling the US government to dig into your digital data from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter and lots more. eBay CEO John Donahoe sees a further problem of government intrusion:
“There’s going to be a trigger point,” noting the need for “a national dialogue about what is acceptable or not. It’s going to be necessary for us to have some national dialogue on privacy, so we don’t have a clash point and they over regulate and slow down innovation,” he said. eBay is not in the big data business, “but I think there are huge opportunities to use data, to customise the experience, to personalise the experience, and if you choose to share with others, it can make the experience even better.”
As with most problems in society, the first step towards a solution to this problem is transparency. It builds trust and increases cooperation. If, between three very different parties – government, businesses, citizens/users – everybody put their cards on the table, an agreement can lead to a better outcome for everybody.