Personal Data in Our Ever-Changing Business Landscape

Seemingly every single company is realizing the advantages of big data and has started tailoring their operations based off of the advantages that big data brings, regardless of the industry. It is sometimes hard to understand the magnitude of big data in our society because we cannot see all of the data that is being collected, but it is important to know that it is happening. There are different ways in which big data can be used other than advertising to customers such as a company using data to know how to determine where their items were purchased and how much.

This can then be turned around and be use predicatively to know when to purchase items to ensure customers are satisfied when visiting the store.

The same way that this data is being collected is the same way that it can threaten personal privacy. Because of the major advantages that data presents to companies, it seems as though companies are desperately trying to get their hands on data by any means necessary.

The main issue with this is that companies are now incentivized to purchase data from other companies because of the major benefits that it provides. Even if the buying or selling of this information can infringe on personal privacy boundaries. Outsourcing of duties regarding data is also a very big problem because their is extremely sensitive information that is being exchanged and when a third party obtains the information there is really no way that the originator of the information can ensure that the data is handled appropriately.

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There is usually a chance for a consumer to opt out of sharing their data but this option is usually in fine print or somewhere that the consumer cannot see. This many times results in the customer not realizing they are sharing their private information with a company that can do many things with the information. However, there is a new movement of more tech-savvy users that are trying to better safeguard their personal data. The main issue being brought up is not the fact that their information is being outsourced to third parties but is more revolved around the way in which the information is treated once it is obtained. While companies usually have some sort of guidelines when it comes to handling personal information, there are other on the opposite side of the spectrum that will do anything to obtain such data because they wish to exploit it. It is tough to find the companies that are actively attempting to exploit the personal data of people because there is usually no trace of foul-play until there are unauthorized transactions or fraudulent loans being made out without consent.

Even though it is clear to some, the question of whether it is ethical to share personal data is still one that continues to be mulled over. Surprisingly so, there can be mutual benefits when it comes to the sharing of consumer’s personal data. Consumers may want targeted advertisements or a shopping experience that is tailored to who they are as a person. These benefits are dually noted, but ethics still remain a problem. The main issues related to maintaining a foundation ethics is making sure that one knows their information is being collected, and also that privacy is always being held for the consumer. There are some rules that exist that strictly prohibit some uses of private information and others that are in the grey area that are usually the areas that are exploited. It simply comes down to: if a company follows rules regarding collecting data, and if this data is being used fir the intentions that it was originally collected for.

It is clear that for some that privacy is being prized less than how much money a company can make. It is more prevalent in companies that operate outside of the US, but unfortunately many US companies do not vet their outsourcing when they are using a third party. On the side of the consumers The Federal Trade Commission highlights 5 key principles when it comes to personal data security: TAKE STOCK. Know what personal information you have in your files and on your computers. SCALE DOWN. Keep only what you need for your business. LOCK IT. Protect the information that you keep. PITCH IT. Properly dispose of what you no longer need. PLAN AHEAD. Create a plan to respond to security incidents.[1] Not only is it a responsibility for a company to ensure the protection of personal data, it is also a smart business move in todays business climate. If a company can take a public stand against cyber attacks and hacks and makes their customers data a top priority, there is an opportunity for that company to entice more customers and good public relations.

This is especially true with industries such as banking and other financial institutions because these types of companies are the ones that usually face the most scrutiny when it comes to not prioritizing privacy over money. Companies that do the bulk of their transactions online also have an amazing opportunity to make consumers feel safe about using their product. Consumers who do the bulk of their shopping online are becoming increasingly aware about not letting their personal information in the hands of just anybody. The public relations backlash can easily ruin a company’s reputation and can even result in a company being forced to go out of business. There can be also be legal consequences for not properly safeguarding customer data.

Facebook is currently the epitome of a company that got absolutely hammered by the media due to the misuse of their data. While Facebook is one of the world’s most profitable companies it is in danger of losing favor in the eye of the public and has already reported losing over 100 Billion of the company’s market value.[2] On the contrary, there are not that many good reasons for a company to ensure privacy outside of the public relations aspect. Ultimately, what it comes down to is a company trying to make as much money as they can while playing within the rules laid out. Even if this means finding loopholes. Big data and ethics is a combination that will seemingly be combined for the foreseeable future.

Unless it becomes absolutely mandated that a company should audit a third party that thy sell their data to – and remain liable – there are simply not enough incentives to ensure that the world of big data is not compromised. The danger with the mishandling of this information doesn’t lie in the fact that Americans may see some unauthorized transactions in their bank account, but more so that one’s medical information is mishandled or an international enemy of the United States obtains valuable information that can compromise the country. The fact that this information is so valuable and people and organizations are willing to pay so much for it makes it even harder to dissuade the originator of the information to not share.  There undoubtedly needs to be more attention on this issue and corresponding legislature that ultimately protects citizens of the United States and the country as a whole.


  1.  “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business.” Federal Trade Commission, 6 Sept. 2017,
  2. Vomiero, Jessica. “Facebook Has Lost $100B in Value – and Its Money Problems May Just Be Beginning.” Global News, 27 Mar. 2018,

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Personal Data in Our Ever-Changing Business Landscape. (2022, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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