The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") held a public workshop, Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?, on September 15, 2014. The workshop brought together stakeholders to discuss both the potential of big data to create opportunities for consumers and to exclude them from such opportunities. The Commission has synthesized the information from the workshop, a prior FTC seminar on alternative scoring products, and recent research to create this report.
The Commission synthesized the discussions and comments from the workshop — along with the record from a prior FTC seminar on alternative scoring products and recent research — to create this report, which focuses on the impact of big data on low-income and underserved populations. The report is divided into four sections. First, the report describes the "life cycle" of big data and how "little" data turns into big data. Second, it discusses some of the benefits and risks created by the use of big data. Third, it describes some of the consumer protection laws that currently apply to big data. Finally, it discusses certain research in the field of big data and lessons that companies should take from the research in order to help them maximize the benefits of big data while mitigating risks.