Big data gets personal. Every time you send an email, use a search engine, watch a video online, or use location-based services you are leaving a digital footprint for third-party companies to track, analyze, use, and sell. All your activity online can be sold to data brokers who then sell it to advertisers, employers, health insurance companies, and credit rating agencies, among others. Every click of your mouse on the Internet is worth something to someone. Identifying potential customers based on their personal information is the new gold rush, but this also raises some privacy concerns. Law enforcement agencies, phone manufacturers, cell carriers, and software companies have recently come under fire for exploiting personal data without the user’s knowledge. Think of it as the price you pay for free online content. No app or website is really free. You pay for them with your privacy. The big question is to define what is personal and what is “fair game” search/web history. There is no clear definition of what constitutes personal information. Furthermore, most of the data gathering and analyzing is automated using complex algorithms. Once we can sort this problem out, we can have a friendlier, high-tech and personalized web experience without the feeling of being monitored. Alejandro Martinez, Market Intelligence Strategist

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