USF forum tackles online data and privacy concerns

- By now, most people have looked at something on Amazon, and then been bombarded by ads for that item on other websites.

But Amazon is not the only company interested in your browsing history.

Many of the things 20-year-old Phoebe Perelman likes best appears in ads on her Facebook page. Advertisers know where she's been online because they've collected data.

"I think it's kind of nice because, at the click of a button, I can get something I really want," says the University of Tampa student. Phoebe and millions of other consumers constantly create data. That data is worth billions of dollars to companies trying to sell things online.

But others are concerned about something entirely different when it comes to consumer data. After recently-passed laws eased regulations on the sale of internet data, many feel that our phones and computers are watching us.

"Even though we're doing nothing wrong, the fact that somebody is watching what we're doing is a little scary and unnerving to us, because maybe someday we'll do something we don't want people to know about, not that you ever did, or ever will," says former Dell executive James Stikeleather.

He was among the speakers at the first ever Florida Business Analytics Forum at the USF Muma College of Business. Hundreds of local business people attended the event Tuesday.

More people's information could soon be available. President Trump signed a bill that wipes away Obama-era privacy protections that were placed on internet providers.

Privacy advocates fear that information about health, finances, or children could be used for unintended reasons. The Dean of the College of Business, Moez Limayem,  says people should listen to such concerns.

"When is enough enough? What are the things we can do and should do with data? Where do we draw that line?" Limayem asked.

Phoebe says she's concerned about privacy issues in the future, but for now, the ads are ok.

"I think they're going to be there for quite some time and, if anything, more of them," she says.

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