Gary LaFever | August 5, 2020

Defending the ethical and legal use of data for secondary processing

In a post COVID-19 world, organisations will become more reliant than ever on solidifying relationships with their existing customer base and improving partnerships via commercial data exchange.

The COVID-19 pandemic has managed to change not only the way we work, says Gary LaFever, CEO and general counsel at Anonos, but also how we use online services. Consumers are leaving behind more of a digital footprint than ever before, and consequently there is an abundance of data that organisations now have access to, which presents them with new opportunities to diversify and grow their revenue streams.

Consumer data has always had a strong commercial value, but at a time when consumers are using online services more than ever before, the value of this data is now arguably at a level it has never reached previously. What’s more, this shift in consumer behaviour and value of customer data is set to stay as we venture into the ‘new normal’.

Importance of data utilisation and the challenges that come with it

Data has long helped organisations grow their revenue streams by understanding what consumers want and then responding to their needs or demands. This enables businesses not only to create value for their customers, but also to improve and change the products and services they offer, while at the same time improving operational efficiency.

This highlights the vital importance of the insights that data provides. It also gives organisations an opportunity to replace old sources of value with new ones, as well as further diversify their revenue streams. In essence, the commercial exchange of data benefits both consumers and businesses.

However, the collection, use and repurposing of data is a complex matter due to the number of new controls and ever changing regulations businesses have to contend with. This reduces the ability to derive digital insights from leveraging data assets both internally and externally. The challenge for businesses is to find a way to reconcile the opposing forces of regulation and data monetisation.

Gaining digital insights lawfully and ethically

Organisations that recognise the benefits of data collection and utilisation to generate new revenue streams face the challenge of balancing compliance with new regulatory controls that hamper the ability to gain digital insights via data. So how exactly can they go about balancing this tension in a way that satisfies all legal and ethical requirements?

Well, the answer may lie with adopting technological processes that can help companies achieve digital insights through secondary processing in line with global data protection standards, vertical industry regulations and data sovereignty or localisation requirements.

The way this works is that organisations would put in place the appropriate safeguards and measures that can combine different data protection mechanisms such as anonymisation, pseudonymisation (as newly defined in the GDPR), CCPA-heightened de-identification and patented proprietary techniques.

This combined method enables users to safely and lawfully access accurate decentralised data that can be used, shared, and combined in compliance with regulatory and risk management requirements. Such an approach essentially enables businesses to gain the benefits of utilising customer data, while also respecting and enforcing the fundamental rights of consumers as data subjects in a data-driven ecosystem.

The need for organisations to defend their right to ethically and legally utilise data for secondary processing and to achieve ‘speed to insight’ is paramount at a time when consumers are increasingly turning to digital services.

While clearly paramount, privacy regulations can be at risk of stifling innovation if they fail to keep up with the pace of technology. Today, there are solutions available that offer businesses the opportunity to implement the correct measures and safeguarding mechanisms that enable both ethical and lawful data processing. The key is encouraging this innovation, while still recognising and respecting the privacy of data subjects at all times.

The author is Gary LaFever, CEO and General Counsel, Anonos.

 

This article originally appeared in THE EVOLVING ENTERPRISE.  All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved by the respective owners.

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