I don’t know many of the technicalities behind data mining. I will say that this topic has many people afraid, myself included, that we will eventually have no privacy left and no way to protect ourselves. My biggest concern with data mining is that the public will not be able to prevent businesses and internet bots from taking our information and using it to their advantage. I think I may have mentioned earlier in the semester that I was shopping around on Amazon for a gift for someone, but didn’t automatically buy anything. After going back to Facebook, I saw an advertisement for a product I had just looked at on Amazon. To be fair, that’s the product I ended up buying, but it still was a little creepy that Facebook was able to get my information from Amazon and post the ad on my profile that quickly. But what if Amazon starts making suggestions you didn’t search for on their website? If it has your credit card information and your address on file, Amazon, or any other website where you store personal information, could steal your identity or do other things that you won’t even find out about until there’s nothing you can do about it. This rarely happens, but it doesn’t mean it won’t.
If I were creating ethical guidelines for my organization to collect data, the most important one is to be transparent about what data you are using and for what purpose. For instance, if my future blog were to ask about what concerts you’ve been to recently or what area of the country, or world, you live in, I would inform my audience that I was collecting that particular data to shape my content. I would also tell my audience that they don’t have to divulge any information they don’t want to, but the more they give me, the more tailored the content will be. Finally, if it was at a point where I would be selling a product, which I don’t know that I ever will, I would give customers the option of storing their credit card information or not. I would let them know there is a greater risk in storing your information, but if they didn’t they would have to enter it every time they make a purchase.
There’s a big difference between storing personal information for recreational or business use and storing it because of national security. I bring up several situations that have caused chaos in the nation over the last several years, such as the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook school shooting. If the data mining of all of these individuals responsible for these tragedies could have prevented them from happening, I would be completely supportive of that. The only reason I would justify intelligence services data mining is for the physical and financial safety of all people that could potentially be involved.