FTC Big Data Workshop

The Federal Trade Commission has scheduled the “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?” workshop that will explore the use of big data and its impact, including the impact on low-income and underserved customers.

“Big Data” is a hot topic for the FTC and Chairwoman Edith Ramirez voiced her concerns regarding the growing use of analytic techniques that companies use to categorize customers and make behavioral predictions.

“As part of the FTC’s ongoing work to shed light on the full scope of big data practices, our workshop will examine the potentially positive and negative effects of big data on low income and underserved populations,” she said in a statement.

Companies ranging from retailers to lead generators to financial institutions may categorize consumers “in ways that may affect them unfairly, or even unlawfully,” the FTC noted, perhaps by offering different prices or discounts to certain consumers or tailoring advertising for specific products.

To explore these issues in greater detail, the workshop will address how big data affects various populations, including specific questions such as:

How are organizations using big data to categorize consumers?

What benefits do consumers gain from these practices?

Do these practices raise consumer protection concerns?

What benefits do organizations gain from these practices?

What are the social and economic impacts, both positive and negative, from the use of big data to categorize consumers?

How do existing laws apply to such practices?

Are there gaps in the legal framework?

Are companies appropriately assessing the impact of big data practices on low-income and underserved populations?

Should additional measures be considered?

In addition to the delineated questions, the FTC invited comments, reports, and original research on the issue. Although pre-workshop comments are due by August 15, the general comment period will last until October 15.

Categories: Technology & Privacy