Most of my travels on the internet involve research for my writing, my blog in particular. Women’s rights issues interest me, so I often find myself reading material about the Middle East. Knowing about big data as I do, I shouldn’t have been surprised when one day an ad for burkas popped up on my screen. Nonetheless, I had to laugh. Here’s was a classic example of the mistakes possible when one draws inferences from big data collection. Should anyone else be laboring under a false assumption, let me make myself clear. No sale on burkas, no matter how reduced the price, would ever induce me to buy a garment which I consider to be a symbol of female enslavement.
Apropos of my concern about how big data mining can go awry, the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC) has suggested controls be set in place to protect individuals from false inferences. Here’s one o their examples:
… a category like ‘Biker Enthusiasts’ could be used to offer discounts on motorcycles to a consumer, but could also be used by an insurance provider as a sign of risky behavior.
Given that one data broker alone collects 700 billion data elements on 1.4 billion consumer transactions, there’s plenty of room for false inferences. (Ibid) Of further concern is the fact that this data is stored indefinitely.
Congress, too, is aware of the problem and is considering legislation to curb some of the excesses of data collection. (Ibid). Anyone interested in commenting will find contact information in the article cited above. Otherwise, if you want to know a good place to buy a burka, drop me a line.
(Courtesy of obamacartoon.blogspot.com)