Big data conundrum: Taking steps to overcome consumer privacy and security issues

Daniel L Jaffe

The business community faces a serious challenge: How do we maintain and foster the tremendous growth of the Internet, social media, and other information technologies (most of which are ad supported) without undermining deeply held values concerning individual privacy and autonomy? The answer to that challenge will have fundamental implications for both marketers and consumers.

Recent disclosures about the surveillance of citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA) as well as several high-profile data breaches from major retailers and other companies have combined to substantially increase the focus of policymakers and consumers on data security and privacy issues. In a January 17 speech on NSA reforms, President Obama stated that the "challenges to our privacy do not come from the government alone. Corporations of all shapes and sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data, and use it for commercial purposes. That's how those targeted ads pop up on your computer and your smartphone periodically."