Big data analytics company Teradata says the IT industry must get to grips with the issue of data privacy before governments step in and make a hash of it.
With the collection of consumer data set to spiral with the growth of social media, car telematics and the Internet of Things, for instance, Teradata says the industry must agree some guidelines to avoid being frozen out from the debate by governments in deciding what can and what can't be collected.
Teradata chief analytics officer Bill Franks, who has just published a book (The Analytics Revolution) on many of the issues around big data - including privacy - said: "For many, the collection of car engine data through telematics, for example, is acceptable if it is used to alert car drivers about car problems, but the collection of car location data is another story altogether - privacy settings have to be strictly set."
Speaking at the company's Partners user conference in Nashville this week, Franks said: "Either industry sorts outs privacy issues and rules or governments will step in. From my experience, when governments step in with legislation with no real understanding of what is really going on, then everyone has a problem."
Franks maintained it was also partly down to consumers to demand how they wanted their data collected, and to not let small numbers of privacy advocates dictate the agenda. Franks said: "The small number, the most vocal, tend to be in either the 'let it all happen camp' or the 'don't let anything happen camp', and you don't want to be exclusively relying on those."
Franks said the use of anonymised data should be widely considered. He said: "Often, you don't have to know the identities of those generating the data, with anonymised data being used to spot the trends, and sometimes anonymised data forms about 95 percent of the valuable data - so you have to factor that into the debate."