Commercial Awareness – Big Data

When e-receipts in physical stores were introduced I welcoming them, as I was forever losing paper receipts in my handbag. When contactless payment methods were announced I was also happy as they are really convenient when trying to complete a million tasks on my lunch break. However, when I paid for a product recently with my contactless card, I was not pleased to find out my email address and other personal data had automatically popped up on the stores till system from my debit card.

In today’s consumer world we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and have an abundant amount of choice when it comes to goods and services. No wonder we crave more personalised experiences, and firms have latched onto this demand by using big data. Firms, such as the big tech giants Google and Facebook, collect large volumes of personal data and utilise it to gain a deeper understanding of their customer’s behaviours and preferences. In turn this enabled them to sell us convenient and personalised services.

However, the collection of big data has raised numerous important legal issues.

Google recently received a $40m fine for monitoring browsing history of iPhone users. Uber, a company which utilises your location data in able to provide transportation services, has seen numerous legal challenges to it’s handling of data and digital business model. In addition to these examples and similar misuses of data, the threat of digital security looms with serious legal implications its own.

Needless to say there have been positive effects too, including the examples of conveniences for consumers I mentioned at the start. Smart assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, use data to bring convenience to households and workplaces (though not without their hiccups!). It is thought the future development of AI using big data has huge potential, from virtual assistants to virtual lawyers.

Either way the use of big data affects us all. Today, it would be important for any prospective lawyer to keep to date of the latest developments and insights. Our world is slowly being dominated by the use of big data, AI, and other innovative technologies. Ultimately we will have to ask ourselves ‘how much personal privacy are we willing to surrender for everyday convenience?’


Written by:
Catherine Howell – OULS  Reporter



Leave a reply

©2019 Open University Law Society

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?