The Ethical Concerns with Data Mining Essay

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The Ethical Concerns with Data Mining

Introduction to Data Mining and Warehousing

With the advent of computer technologies that can store large quantities of data, cross reference that data, and compute patterns in the data, benefits abound in many applications. However, with it comes new ethical concerns regarding the privacy and security of the persons or entities in which the information was sourced. While permission may have been received with each bit of information, which may have appeared harmless to divulge, there are issues regarding the data's ownership -- its sharability in US or globally, its combination with other data, its accuracy, its security, and its overall end use [1] -- that could contribute to privacy or
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[1,2]

An example of how data mining is conducted and used to benefit business can be explained in the following scenario:

"A bank wants to know more about its customers, in particular the types of people who might want a loan from the bank. This could be extremely useful information, because the bank could make big savings from using a tightly targeted marketing campaign, compared to one that tries to communicate with the general public...Using test data, algorithms are used to detect the characteristics of customers who took out a particular type of loan. These customers are differentiated from those who used other kinds of financial services, including other types of loan. The algorithm will be able to develop 'rules' by which it can identify customers who are likely to be good prospects for the loan. These rules are then applied to the remainder of the database. The final computing task may be to sort the whole databank into clusters; groups of customers who share similar characteristics. It is at this stage that interesting and perhaps surprising patterns might be detected. These patterns then have to be interpreted by the data miners and banking staff." [4]

In another domain, an indepth paper by the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin concludes on the benefits of data mining: "Law enforcement

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