U.S. PIRG & Center for Digital Democracy, Big Data Means Big Opportunities and Big Challenges: Promoting Financial Inclusion and Consumer Protection in the “Big Data” Financial Era (Mar. 2014) (full-text).
This report focused on the realities of the new financial marketplace and the threats and opportunities its use poses to financial inclusion. The report examines the impact of digital technology, especially the unprecedented analytical and real-time actionable powers of "Big Data," on consumer welfare. The groups immediately filed the report with the White House Big Data review headed by John Podesta, who serves as senior counselor to the President. The White House is to issue a report in April addressing the impact of "Big Data" practices on the public, including the possible need for additional consumer safeguards.
Among the issues examined in the report are the following:
- the plight of "underbanked and unbanked consumers," who face special challenges in the new financial marketplace;
- the impact of data collection and targeted advertising on all Americans, most of whom have no idea that their personal data shape the offers they receive and the prices they pay online;
- the use of murky "lead generation" practices, especially by payday lenders and for-profit trade schools, to target veterans and others for high-priced financial and educational products; and
- the need for new regulatory oversight to protect consumers from potentially discriminatory and deceptive practices online.