Tackling the dangers of big data

30 Apr 2019

This article was originally published on Momentum.

As consumers wake up to the worrying implications of big data, companies need to develop a more ethical approach or face a backlash, says UQ Business School data expert Dr Ida Someh.

A new, high-value asset is being traded on global markets. Described as ‘the new oil’, data has powered the growth of digital giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook by allowing them to target customers more effectively and boost sales.

Other businesses have followed their lead. Like a cash crop, data is now harvested from customers, then processed, shared or sold on. As services become more ‘data-driven’, consumers’ personal details and past behaviour influence the choice they are offered - from the stories that appear in their newsfeeds to their ability to access credit and the price they pay for insurance.

However, by limiting people’s options in this way, big data could undermine the free market and result in discrimination. There is also the risk that unscrupulous organisations could use this wealth of knowledge to manipulate our behaviour, influence how we spend our money and even the way we vote.

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