It is vital for big data analysists to be transparent and open about the data they collect and how they use it, to keep the concern of the users at bay.
Unfortunately, the usage of data is not addressed as the important privacy issue that it is. Data breach is the most common, and arguably most damaging, privacy mistake your company can make. A data breach can reach the headlines and cause tremendous damage and embarrassment to your company, along with other topics such as discriminatory algorithms and illegal bias, inaccurate information due to relying on fake news, and identity reverse engineering, which basically consists of undoing anonymization.
Big data analytics have the power to gain a huge amount of information, which, if breached, can cause people huge problems. For example, your bank details are probably sitting in many databases, which, if accessed by someone else, could be detrimental.
Next, we come to the way information leads to knowledge, and unknown companies having knowledge about their customers can be deemed extremely unnerving. Information is where companies use data collected to understand user’s behaviours. From this, knowledge can be gained, where you connect the dots between different areas of a user’s life, such as their personal interests, political and religious views and shopping habits.
Over time, information can be gathered and therefore knowledge about a person leads to wisdom: an extremely personal profile of a user, cultivated over many years. People are often unaware of this and would be very uncomfortable if they were aware that someone knows so much about them. This is arguably the biggest problem faced by large data analytic companies.
In order to maintain a positive relationship with users, it is vital to be transparent and upfront about what and who you analyse. You should let your users know what your analytic capabilities are, generally what you know about them and why. If you find that you can’t find adequate reasoning for the information you have, you should probably reconsider it in order to avoid a scandal.
However, despite the importance of transparency, it is also important not to give away your strategic secrets – you are a competitive business, and if you give away too much information, your value disappears. Therefore, you must be transparent, but keep your vital strategic information to yourself. Try to explain what you do, rather than how you do it.
Primarily, you must let people know what you know, and what you’re capable of doing with this information. This won’t dissipate the privacy issue, but over time, transparency will build a relationship with your users and this trust is what will stop you becoming a scandal.