Database Data Mining: the Silent Invasion of Privacy

As coined in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Aisha Sultan, “Data is the new world currency”. Data mining is the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and then summarizing it into useful information. In essence is it applying all different types of what if scenarios on large swaths of data to get possible results to aid in better decision making. This sort of decision making isn’t something new, it’s the technology aiding the decision making that is new.

This has reduced the amount of time it takes in the decision making process and given the decision makers more confidence in their decisions. Unfortunately with this technology personal privacy is no longer being kept private, since anything can be data mined. The reason for this is the vast data bases of information ranging from private companies to government agencies. Anyone who has access to that information can data mine it. My plan for this paper is to investigate if there is any government, non-governmental or private agency in charge of ensuring personal privacy is being kept by data mining companies.

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Bring to light who or what is ensuring that the analyzation of data is being used in an ethical manner. And finally highlight any national/international standards for data mining and what are the repercussions for violating those standards. To start with let’s look at the government, non-governmental, or private agencies that are in charge of ensuring personal privacy is being kept private during the analyzation of data in the data mining process. There are quite a few agencies that have been designated officially or non-officially to protect the privacy of consumer data.

One of the biggest is the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s main purpose according to its website is to, “prevent business practices that are anticompetitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; to enhance informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and to accomplish this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity. ” Within the FTC the division assigned to protect consumer privacy is the Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center. The FTC along with the European Union have formed an alliance to ensure the flow of data between businesses in the U. S.

Europe called the U. S. – European Safe Harbor Framework (FTC). Now some of the non-governmental agencies that have taken it upon themselves to protect consumer privacy information are Epic. org, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), Better Business Bureau Online (BBB Online), and TRUSTe. As you can see there are various organizations at the government and private sector levels whose purpose is to ensure consumer privacy information is protected. Of all these agencies, who is designated as being in charge of assuring the analyzation of data is being used in an ethical manner?

This is a very good question since the non-governmental agencies are more or less initiatives formed by the private sector. With the private sector forming its own governing body already sounds like unethical practices going on. It would be like telling a criminal to judge him/herself and submit their own proposal for punishment. The only agencies that have an independent connection to guarding of privacy information are the BBB Online, and Epic. org. These two agencies are private non-profit agencies designed to ensure businesses in the protect consumer privacy during the process of data mining.

They can’t enact legislation though they can opinionate and pressure governments to enact legislation to better guard consumer data. The only real agency that has the power to make public and private sector entities to comply with regulations and laws governing consumer data is the Federal Trade Commission. When the FTC was designated as being the protector of consumer data their initial reaction was to promote self-regulation. Meaning companies govern themselves when it comes to consumer data protection within the digital age.

But after realizing that companies can’t govern themselves since the allure of profits from selling consumer information they collect to other agencies is so great, the FTC has had a change of mind and is now promoting the effort of government regulation of protection of privacy of consumer data. Now this brings up a good question. What has the FTC done to promote standards/regulations to protect consumer privacy data and what are the punishments for not complying with those standards and regulations. The FTC had advised congress on enacting laws to protect consumer privacy.

Some of those laws are the Children’s’ Privacy Protection Act of 1998, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act (GLBA), Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994, Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, Electronic Fund Transfer Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Federal Privacy Act (Kim). Most of these regulations are predominantly enacted for the public sector in order to prevent illegal gathering of information by government agencies at the federal, state, and local level.

It is also the FTC that handles the cases against companies that don’t comply with these regulations besides promoting further enhancement of regulations. For example the FTC is currently advising Congress and implementing a stronger version of the Do Not Track legislation. At the same time they have brought cases against Google (FTC. gov), Facebook (FTC. gov), and other major IT industry giants. In the Google case, Google agreed to pay $22. 5 million dollars for violating privacy regulations, and the Facebook case, the FTC forced Facebook to adhere to privacy policy changes for the next 20 years.

So the punishment of violating privacy policy statements is either a fine or guaranteed compliance of policy and regulation. The best possible assurance of compliance is fining entities who are found to be in violation or lodging criminal charges against executives. As you can see there are agencies that are designed to ensure consumer privacy data is protected. At the same time there really isn’t any standard for privacy compliance other than laws and regulations, and ensuring companies adhere to their own policies of handling consumer privacy data.

Even though the FTC is more sided to companies/entities self-governing themselves when it comes to the protection of privacy information, the FTC is leaning more and more towards legal regulation and laws. Until the allure of profit making from the sale of consumer privacy data wears off, companies will continue to treat consumer privacy as a profit maker and will say one thing but do something else. It is ultimately up to the consumer to educate themselves and take the protection of their privacy information into their own hands.

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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Database Data Mining: the Silent Invasion of Privacy. (2016, Oct 13). Retrieved from