With the growth of big data and increasing access to large data records and databases, it is becoming increasingly difficult to guarantee the privacy of personal data – even if a company tries to anonymize the data. Big data applications can use external data such as social media and local government data to link internal data sets. In doing so, they may create anonymous links to the data, which can increase the ability of individuals to create detailed personal profiles and become increasingly worrying.
Screening Potential Employees
Today companies can use this information to screen potential employees and track social media activity for corporate or intellectual property violations. As the technical ability to use social media data grows, there may be an increase in the corporate use of this data to track the performance of individual employees.
Right to be Forgotten
Although this is less of an issue in countries such as the UK and Australia where people’s privacy and equal employment rights are a top priority, governments around the world do not accept these issues globally. Such issues have led to privacy activists and EU policymakers pushing data protection into a ‘right to be forgotten’ model where everyone can remove their data from a company’s systems and completely forget it.
Many problems arise from stories of people being rejected for a job because an employer has found a detailed picture of them on Facebook, or something that is shared on social media and people are firing people in a private capacity. However, as today’s younger generation becomes tomorrow’s management, data security issues and what workers are talking about in their own time will be more comfortable. As a result, we can see a shift towards a ‘forgiving’ model – where individuals can rely more heavily on companies that do not abuse their data, and those companies do less.
For example, for generations who grew up with social media, a photo of someone who was intoxicated at a party was posted on Facebook, but that does not mean that the person is an ineffective employee. If such a sober approach to personal privacy is ubiquitous, the data will be more open because people believe that companies and employers will not misunderstand or misuse it.
When is the time to adopt a big data solution? Like cell phones, trust in data over time will increase. This comes as customer interest in the data becomes stronger and more available. While Big Data is not really new (as discussed earlier), late adopters – surprisingly quickly – can experience the negative business implications of not accepting it too soon.