FTC Is Falling Short In Protecting Consumers’ Data Used By Businesses
by David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times
Federal regulators served notice last week: They’re watching how businesses use — and possibly abuse — consumers’ personal information.
And that’s great. It’s about time more official attention was paid to ways that companies invade our privacy. But federal authorities can do more, much more, to level the playing field.
In a report titled “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?”, the Federal Trade Commission stopped short of laying down rules for how companies collect and profit from customer information. But it made clear that officials are wary of how such practices can cause harm.
Big Data refers to both the ways businesses exploit customer information and the shadowy industry that’s emerged to buy and sell people’s data like any other commodity. Highly detailed profiles of your likes and dislikes are now available to marketers, employers and others — and you have little if any say over how they’re used.
“Big Data’s role is growing in nearly every area of business, affecting millions of consumers in concrete ways,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said. “The potential benefits to consumers are significant, but businesses must ensure that their Big Data use does not lead to harmful exclusion or discrimination.”
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