"Big data has a big problem.
They're the lifeblood of a marketing industry bent on efficiency and accurate targeting, but data-mining companies have for decades operated under a shroud of mystery and are not so easily trusted when it comes to consumers and privacy activists. Data giant Acxiom is aiming to quell concerns with a little transparency in the hopes it will pacify lawmakers threatening to curb the industry's practices and preempt heightened consumer concern about data security and privacy.
But will opening up the curtain be enough to calm jitters over how much information commercial interests collect? Can it stave off legislation by a government that, despite being concerned about privacy law, harvests large amounts of commercial data for its own surveillance efforts?
Acxiom's solution -- the just-launched website AboutTheData -- invites visitors to enter their names, addresses, and the last four digits of their social security numbers to access a portal that reveals the information the company has gathered on them. This includes age, estimated income, residence, ethnicity, marital status and which categories of product purchases -- from food to home furnishings -- a consumer has made via mail order. Acxiom's is not the first initiative by the industry to show consumers what companies know (or think they know) about them. It is, however, ambitious in its accessibility, simplicity and undisguised pitch to consumers about the merits of data improving people's lives."
Read more here: Kate Kaye, Will Transparency Help Big Data Face Down Its Critics? Acxiom, Others Let Consumers Peek at Their Profiles in Bid to Improve Public Perception, September 09, 2013.