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Speaker says public pushing for privacy

Data collection subject of UALR talk

By Jessica Seaman

This article was published April 12, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.

While more and more data are being collected and analyzed by companies and the government, there is a push for greater openness about how consumer information is used, Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, chief privacy officer for data broker Acxiom Corp., said Friday.

“We are in a society that is just becoming more transparent everyday,” she told students and faculty gathered at the Engineering and Information Technology Auditorium on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s campus.

“That is changing our attitudes about what choices consumers should have,” Barrett Glasgow said.

Her speech focused on the growth of personal-data collection, privacy issues and future opportunities in the industry.

“Someone, maybe a lot of someones, is tracking our every move,” she said. “That may be scary.”

But, Barrett Glasgow said, consumers need to ask if they benefit from the use of data.

Little Rock-based Acxiom collects information on thousands of people and then sells it to its clients, such as banks and retailers, to use in targeted marketing campaigns. The information is gathered from the company’s clients and public records.

Barrett Glasgow said there is a growing desire from the public for more digital anonymity.

“Anonymity is an issue and concept that is very much in play right now,” she said.”We want some control over anonymity, but the question is how much.”

Barrett Glasgow said this raises the question of how to give the public control over its data.

“As we redefine what’s personal, we also introduce the concept that it’s not the same for everybody,” she said.

In an attempt to connect with consumers, Acxiom introduced the website, Barrett Glasgow said.

The website, which launched in September, lists some of the personal information Acxiom has collected on individuals.

The website gives users an opportunity to update the information the company has or to “opt out” and prevent the company from using the data for marketing campaigns.

Technology companies and data brokers have been pressured to be more transparent about the information they gather and how it is used. Data brokers, including Acxiom, have been investigated by multiple groups, including a U.S. Senate committee.

Privacy concerns were exacerbated last year after reports broke about the National Security Agency’s bulk data gathering. Now John Podesta, adviser to President Barack Obama, is reviewing such issues in the public and private sectors at the president’s request. The review is expected to be completed this month.

Barrett Glasgow said the proposals being considered by Congress aren’t “very nuanced.”

“I think we will make some serious mistakes if we regulate data too much,” she said. “We need to regulate how it is used.”

Business, Pages 31 on 04/12/2014

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