Data collection and use practices of data brokers, which includes the nature and sources of consumer data they collect, has always been a cause of concern for privacy environments. The issue arises because how these organisations use, maintain, and disseminate the data. Also, the extent to which data brokers allow consumers to access and correct data about them or to opt out of having their personal information sold or shared is not known. Before moving on with big data’s legal implications, it is important to understand what a data broker is. Data brokers are organisation’s that are responsible for collecting personal information about consumers from a variety of public and non-public sources and resell the information to other companies.
Canadian privacy laws
The Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act (PIPEDA) is responsible for regulating all organisations that collect, use and disclose personal information in the course of commercial activity, except in provinces with substantially similar legislation. PIPEDA is also applicable to trans border dataflow. This includes all personal information held by federal works, undertakings and businesses (FWUBs), including information about the employees of FWUBs. The primary objective of PIPEDA is to establish rules that govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes the right of privacy of individuals and the need of organisations to collect, use and disclose personal information for legitimate business purposes. PIPEDA tries to create a balance to fulfil the needs of both businesses and the privacy rights of individuals. Practices such as direct marketing are not prohibited by PIPEDA. At the same time, it ensures that organisations are providing individuals with the opportunity to control the collection, use, and disclosure of their information. It requires companies purchasing information from data brokers to comply with the legislation.
The regulatory environment of Canada regarding privacy is very different from that of the United States. This is the reason for many data brokers in the United States not operating in Canada. According to a research paper funded under the OPC’s Contributions Program, Canadian privacy legislation requirements is the reason for Canadian data brokers are using fewer information sets than in the United States and provide enhanced privacy protections for Canadians.
Privacy concerns related to big data
There are potential concerns related to organisations trading in information. The concerns include the issue of big data along with the risks associated with safeguarding large amounts of personal information. Because storing and compiling data has become easier and cheaper, enough digital security infrastructure is not spent on, and the implications of a data breach are grave and are
At the same time, big data can be an invaluable resource as its use for knowledge discovery through the application of data mining techniques are indeed very valuable. Issues arise when knowledge discovery, which involves information about a person, is used for a purpose not previously identified and without consent. This is a highly problematic issue due to the fact that the person may be aware about information existing and being analysed and used by others.
Although big data risks are not unique to the data broker industry, they are invariably more complex. Big data can have a greater impact on the privacy of Canadians than other sectors due to the scope, scale, and nature of data broker business lines.