While the discourse over Cambridge Analytica scandal shows no symptoms of slowdown, it, at some place, has been taken to an even higher level. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now investigating Facebook over an agreement they signed in 2011, which stated that Facebook would not share FTC’s user data without an expressed consent.
Further, the scandal was also raised at a public hearing by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehood in Singapore, which is trending on YouTube. In aggregate, Facebook’s brand image has suffered a severe dent, which is evident from the USD50 billion eroded from its market value. However, it’s not the financial implication which matters right now, it will be more than that.
On the one hand, the scandal has revealed the potential of Big Data, where it may influence elections in countries, effectively rupturing democracies. Thus, it becomes imperative to manage this beast before the entire world falls prey to the neo-colonialism of tech giants. While it is highly challenging to ensure ethical use of big data and thus, delays are only expected to subject countries and consumers to a greater threat.
On the other, consumers finally got to know the reason why services such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc. are free. They now realise that they were the products being offered to businesses at large by these tech giants. Certainly unintended, but the entire scandal has helped in raising awareness among consumers, who are now expected to raise concerns over data protection and privacy issues.
It’s not to say that big data is not being used for productive purposes. It has benefitted entrepreneurs and small businesses immensely. Regulating data movement may have serious implications on economic activities. However, not regulating it may lead to an even bigger debacle.
Thus, this trade-off has to be understood carefully and urgently. A few of the questions, the world wants answer for, are: Can the consumer control what they want to share and what they don’t? Will this episode end up derailing digital aspirations of the world? How would the small businesses fare in this competitive world, and lots more? However, the biggest question remains as top priority: Who owns the data?