Table of Contents
Meta-Data in the Retail Industry 2
Negative Aspects 3
What Should Lawmakers Do? 4
Goals of Lawmakers 5
Possible Outcomes of Cybersecurity Regulations 5
Meta-data can be described as ‘detailed data which describe other data to obtain a better understanding and achieve better quality of information’ (Beth Haugen, Herrin, Slivochka, McNeil Tolley, Warner, & Washington, 2013). Private companies harvest meta-data to create complex advertising campaigns (Yu, McLaughlin & Levy, 2014). We shall focus on the retail industry, and how companies use meta-data. We shall also discuss the cons if meta-data ...view middle of the document...
Walmart, one of the biggest retail companies in the world, created @WalmartLabs in 2011 to incorporate meta-data to its services (Milian, 2014). Walmart reported a 20 percent increase in customers who went from browsing for a product to buying it within the first year of the inception of @WalmartLabs. The increase was attributed to the customers’ ability to quickly find what they were looking for (Milian, 2012). Retailers can also use meta-data for fraud prevention. Using geolocation, a retailer can monitor an online purchase attempt, where the user is away from home. The website can request more verification information, and block the transaction if the user cannot provide the additional verification information (King, 2011).
There are some negative attributes to the consumer related to collection of meta-data. Dixon & Gellman (2014) discussed some of those issues:
• Secrecy – Meta-data is mostly collected without the consumer’s knowledge. The information is not available to the consumer, nor does the consumer know how this information is used.
• Accuracy – Since the consumer cannot view the information derived from the meta-data, he or she cannot verify its validity. Incorrect information may negatively affect the consumer’s buying experience.
• Identity theft – If the meta-data is not securely stored, hackers could get their hands on it, and sell it to fraudsters, who then use the information to commit fraud and identity fraud.
• Discrimination and Unfairness – Since there is no regulation that specifically addresses meta-data, a consumer may be discriminated against, based on information from their meta-data. Worse still, since the information is virtually untraceable, there is no way for the consumer to know and contest any discrimination.
• Exposure of sensitive health and lifestyle information – Use of meta-data may expose a consumer’s health conditions, or lifestyle such as sexual orientation, that he or she would prefer to remain private. An example is the case where Target used meta-data to predict that a teenage girl was pregnant, and sent her coupons for baby products (Martin, 2014). Worse scenarios can lead to discrimination by potential employers based on health or sexuality.
• Consent – In most instances, the consumer does not give informed consent for his or her information to be used for predictive scoring.
What Should Lawmakers Do?
Currently, there are no direct laws regulating the use of geolocation tools. Geolocation tools collect meta-data, which may include Personally Identifiable Information (PII). The lawmakers should ensure that PII and privacy is safeguarded (King, 2011). Dixon et al (2014) recommend the regulations below to protect the consumer. These recommendations address consumer scores, which are part of the meta-data collected from consumers:
• Lawmakers should ensure all data is public, including how and where the data was collected from.
• The meta-data creators should conform...