DMA Says Big Data Doesn't Require Legislation

The White House recently issued a mixed report on “Big Data,” stating that companies could draw on data to personalize ads or content in ways that benefit consumers, but also could use data in a way that causes “real harm.”

“The fusion of many different kinds of data, processed in real time, has the power to deliver exactly the right message, product or service to consumers before they even ask,” the White House wrote in its highly publicized report. “Unfortunately, 'perfect personalization' also leaves room for subtle and not-so-subtle forms of discrimination in pricing, services and opportunities.”

Shortly after that report came out, the Commerce Department sought comments about some of the issues the document raised -- including whether new laws are needed to address some of the potential pitfalls of data collection.

Some privacy advocates responded by calling for new restrictions on companies' ability to collect data -- particularly sensitive data, including information about health, race and age.

But the Direct Marketing Association says that “Big Data” doesn't raise any concerns that would justify new laws.

Big data has not created new concerns regarding the private sector’s responsible use of marketing data for marketing purposes,” the DMA says in comments filed this week with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “Regardless of quantity, data is data -- it may be used for good or for harm.”

The ad group says that consumers already are protected by specific laws, like the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, which protects medical data, and the Children's Privacy Protection Act, which limits companies' ability to collect data from kids under 13.

"The scope of data has not made existing protections less valuable or less effective,” the DMA argues.

The DMA also says in its comments that there's no need for new laws to regulate data brokers. The organization specifically takes aim at a proposal requiring data brokers to disclose information about consumers and let them revise information in their profiles.

"The cost of implementing access and correction for marketing databases is prohibitive for most companies and would outweigh any benefits,” the DMA says.

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2 comments about "DMA Says Big Data Doesn't Require Legislation".
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  1. larry towers from nyu, August 8, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.

    I love this quote:
    "The cost of implementing access and correction for marketing databases is prohibitive for most companies and would outweigh any benefits,” the DMA says."

    Who decides this equation? The benefit of privacy is for consumers not data aggregators or marketers! The marketers shouldn't decide whether it is worth it. Consumers should.

  2. Ulf Mattsson from Protegrity, August 9, 2014 at 8:59 a.m.

    I agree that “The marketers shouldn't decide whether it is worth it. Consumers should” but I do not agree that "Big data has not created new concerns".

    We should know that most Big Data platforms are lacking the mandatory security that we find in traditional computer systems and database environments.

    There is also a shortage in Big Data skills and an industry-wide shortage in data security personnel, so many organizations don’t even know they are doing anything wrong from a security and compliance perspective:

    1. I think a big data security crisis is likely to occur very soon and few organizations have the ability to deal with it.
    2. We have little knowledge about data loss or theft in big data environments. The tools are not available today.
    3. I imagine it is happening today but has not been disclosed to the public. The tools are not available today.

    The good news is that some organizations are proactive and successfully using new approaches to address issues with security and privacy in Big Data environments.

    New security approaches are required since Big Data is based on a new and different architecture.

    Big Data technology vendors up until recently have often left data security up to customers to protect their environments, as they too feel the burden of limited options.

    Today, vendors such as Teradata, Hortonworks, and Cloudera, have partnered with data security vendors to help fill the security gap.

    Ulf Mattsson, CTO Protegrity