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If governments yield to public pressure to tighten controls on the use of consumer data, will brands continue to have the information they need to make important business decisions?

That's one of the key questions we're aiming to answer in a South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive workshop on March 9, 2014.

The session is inspired by many of today's headlines about the use of consumer data. Big Data exists today because privacy laws are currently relatively lax, giving companies access to vast quantities of data on individuals. We're in the Wild West days of Big Data: Few rules exist, while many companies play fast and loose with people's data.

But changes are on the horizon. Our own investigation shows that 8 in 10 people are opposed to companies monitoring their online data. As a result of more consumers asking for tighter controls, many execs now believe that Big Data privacy concerns will ultimately lead to regulation. In fact, these executives are right since European Union's data protection package is expected to be finalized in 2014, putting in place what will be the toughest regulations of consumer data collection. The US Congress is also starting to look into consumer data security following a number of high-profile data breaches in the last few months.

The changing legal landscape raises a few important questions: What do consumers really say about their willingness to share their data and the ways they protect their privacy? What if people voiced their concerns and stopped the untrammeled flow of their information? What are the implications for Big Data and the deep insights it can reveal?

Our upcoming workshop at SXSW Interactive - hosted by Andrew Grenville, chief research officer at Vision Critical, and Tyler Douglas, chief marketing officer at Vision Critical - will explore answers to these critical questions by:

  • Sharing with you an exclusive international study on people's attitudes toward privacy, surveillance and the use of their data, conducted in conjunction with Queen's University's Surveillance Studies Centre;
  • Discussing scenarios around where Big Data and privacy issues arise;
  • Brainstorming, in small interactive groups, ways to maximize transparency, value to customers and citizens, and a sense of community
  • Generating ideas for what to investigate in a subsequent study on Big Data and privacy - the results of which we will share back exclusively with workshop attendees, prior to any public release.

As the rules around the use of consumer data change, working with consumers to facilitate smart and ethical use of Big Data will be imperative. If you're planning to go to SXSW, please sign up for our workshop and talk to us about the future of Big Data.

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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