So far in this blog series, the reader has heard about how Big Data is the future of international business and all of the positives that are associated with it. While there are many positives for using Big Data, there are also many negatives. Further, those negatives may expand beyond just international business and into society as we know it. Let’s explore a few of these problems:
1. Big Data is indiscriminate and can cause false identifications. If a company or government agency has identified an effective algorithm to sort the data and identify certain persons of interest to them, that algorithm is used no matter what the circumstances. For instance, credit card companies are looking at the payback history of other consumers who shop at the same stores as the applicant to determine the applicant’s credit rating. This can cause a dangerous case of guilt by association and may even create social inequities as people cannot escape their backgrounds.
2. Big Data reveals all information and knows no bounds. Using Big Data correctly can reveal things that either the customer doesn’t want other to know or may not even know themselves. Since Big Data uses patterns in the data to determine what consumers may want or identify people, the patterns that people exhibit may display revealing things about themselves, such as they may be pregnant or have a disease. However, since the customer in this case doesn’t have the choice to hide or reveal this information which violates their basic privacy rights. Consumers are often frightened when they realize how much companies know about them from Big Data. In fact, Target has realized that there are adverse side effects to explicitly focusing their ads based on Big Data. Target actually goes to great lengths to hide their focused ads within other advertisements so the consumer is unaware that they are being targeted. That says a lot about this problem.
3. Big Data favors larger companies over individuals. As the corporations are the ones that can truly use Big Data, they stand to gain a considerable advantage over individuals or smaller companies. This could further inequality on the playing field between the developed world and the developing world. Developed world companies are the ones that would be benefiting from Big Data and this would make it even harder for developing world companies to compete.
Those are the three biggest problems with Big Data, but there are others as well, which the ACLU raises. As one can imagine, all of them have the potential to snowball into much bigger problems and cause potential social stratification. These problems not only apply to international business but to society as a whole. Despite these negatives, is it still worth it to implement Big Data?