Power Shift

Personal at the National Law Journal 2013 Regulatory Summit

Last week, Personal’s own Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel Josh Galper presented at the National Law Journal 2013 Regulatory Summit on legal, regulatory and business privacy issues facing companies today.

Josh was joined on the panel by Marc Zwillinger and Jon Frankel of the internet law firm ZwillGen and Anne Toth, Founder and CEO of Privacyworks and former head of privacy for Google+ and Chief Trust Officer of Yahoo.

Check out ZwillGen’s summary of the discussion.

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By Adem Gokturk in All, Power Shift

A Rising Tide of Data, Partnered With Privacy by Design, Will Lift All Boats

This piece was originally published on the Disruptive Competition Project blog (DisCo)

By Dr. Ann Cavoukian and Shane Green

Over the last year, we have started to see a remarkable shift in the way the world thinks about data and privacy. The old levies of compliance and binary permission settings are being washed away by a rising tide of data that is growing at a rate exceeding Moore’s Law.

In fact, more data will be created and captured this year than in all of human history. Fueling this explosion are connected devices so numerous that, according to a recent GSMA study, there will be more such devices throwing off data this year than there are people in the world.

In this rapidly changing data ecosystem, tools such as one-time notice-and-consent agreements and simple transparent disclosures are less helpful, perhaps becoming obsolete. Individuals can no longer be treated as passive data subjects who merely provide information for collection and use by an organization. Instead, more sophisticated approaches are required based on context-based approvals and, more importantly, informed individuals who are engaged with their data across their lives.

We too must evolve, and those companies and organizations that empower individuals to be full partners in this emerging personal data ecosystem will create tremendous value in the form of stronger, deeper and trusted relationships with their customers, thereby gaining new competitive advantages, including greater, not less, access to data.

The latest signs that these once revolutionary ideas are today becoming mainstream, and will tomorrow become the standard for doing business, are two recent reports by centrist, pro-business think tanks. Continue reading

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By Shane Green in Power Shift

Data Vaults Go Mainstream at World Economic Forum

In the last six months, a fast growing and somewhat unexpected chorus has emerged around the need to give people greater control over their personal information.

Mainstream think tanks are now focused on it – see the recent Aspen Institute report, which focuses extensively on “the new economy of personal information” and the central role of individuals in it.

Governments are also catalyzing this new model. The Midata initiative in the U.K. and the Open Data initiative in the United States are giving back government-collected data  to citizens in organized, reusable form.

But what’s most interesting is the growing realization among companies that their futures are tied to building new relationships with consumers who are increasingly empowered with and savvy about their digital data, and who have growing concerns about how their data is captured and used.

That’s why a new report released today by the World Economic Forum, whose membership is made up of Fortune 1000 companies, is so important. “Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage” is a product of the Forum’s multi-year Rethinking Personal Data Project, and was led by Forum official Bill Hoffman (see his blog today on the report) and a steering committee of the Boston Consulting Group, Kaiser Permanente, Visa, Microsoft, AT&T and VimpelCom. Personal also participated, and is a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Data-Driven Development.

When you consider the organizations behind the report, its major conclusions are all the more dramatic:

  • Companies and governments need to put people at the center of their data, empowering individuals to engage in how their data flows through technology. This means giving consumers greater access to and control over their information as well as the tools to benefit directly from it.
  • We need to move past old notions of privacy that revolved around simple notice and consent. Instead, companies should adopt Privacy by Design principles that address every stage of product, technology and business development. This would ensure, for example, that apps feature user-driven permissioning of data and have greater transparency and control over how it’s used and valued.
  • The report blows a hole through the canard that e-commerce and privacy cannot peacefully coexist. It’s not a zero-sum game. Instead, it’s a win-win for businesses and consumers where even more data can flow between trusted parties.
  • Perhaps most exciting, the report detailed a number of use cases in which companies are helping consumers to leverage their personal information to improve their lives, ranging from health care (Kaiser Permanente) to financial data (Visa) to automotive price transparency (Truecar) to online reputational information (Reputation.com).
  • Personal was also profiled to demonstrate how personal data vaults can make the time-wasting tradition of form filling obsolete, saving literally billions of hours annually, and greatly improving the delivery of public and private sector services. Check out www.personal.com/fillit to see how your company or organization can participate.

We’re excited to see the model we have been building over the past three years start to catch fire, and we expect to see a lot more progress in the next six months.

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By Shane Green in Power Shift

Data as a Human Right

This post was originally published on the World Economic Forum Blog.

Data has the power to transform our lives – collectively and individually. What is needed to unlock the profound opportunity data affords to improve the human condition – and to defend against a multitude of threats – is not technical, but an ethical framework for its use by and beyond those who initially collect it, including providing access to individuals.

At its most fundamental level, data about individuals represents a new kind of “digital self” that cannot be easily distinguished from the physical person. Some consider it a form of property; others a form of expression or speech. Those working in the area of genomics often view personal data as the DNA sequences that make us truly unique. Whatever lens one uses, it has become increasingly clear that the consequences of how personal data is used are every bit as real for people and society as any material, physical or economic force.

Properly harnessed by ethical practitioners, the principled use of “big data” sets can improve our economies, create jobs, reduce crime, increase public health, identify corruption and waste, predict and mitigate humanitarian crises, and lessen our impact on the environment. Similarly, empowering individuals with access to reusable copies of data collected by others, also called “small data”, can help them drastically improve the quality of their lives, from making better financial, education and health decisions, to saving time and reducing friction in discovering and accessing private and public sector services. Evidence of the positive impact of leveraging data, by both institutions and individuals, abounds.

However, data, like the technology that generates it, is in and of itself neutral. It can be used for good or ill. With a proper, ethical framework, data can – and should – be leveraged for the benefit of humankind, simultaneously at the societal, organizational and individual level. Misused, its power to harm and exploit is similarly unlimited.

In fact, what raises the ethical use and respect for data potentially into the realm of a fundamental human right is its ability to describe and reveal unique human identity, attributes and behaviors – and its power to affect a person’s, and a society’s, well-being as a result. Just as in the physical world, basic rights and opportunities must be preserved.

Indeed, it is already well recognized that invasions of our digital privacy can be exploited for repression, and that technologies for sharing data can be harnessed to support freedom. More fundamentally, though, we need to extend our core rights themselves into the digital world. For example, we must adapt our notion of freedom of thought to account for the new reality that much of our thinking goes on in digital spaces – as does the management and sharing of our most private information. Preserving individual freedom will now  require  protecting  autonomy with respect to our own data.

Clearly, cultural and regional differences regarding human rights in the analog, physical world are sure to arise in this digital, data-oriented world. We do not seek to resolve those issues, but to develop a clear framework of principles to help provide data, data access and data use the protections they deserve.

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By Shane Green in Power Shift

Personal and Privacy by Design

Today, one of the world’s leading privacy regulators, scholars and advocates, the Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, published a groundbreaking report about the personal data ecosystem, a sector of companies that includes Personal and helps individuals control and directly benefit from the increasing amount of data being created about them and their lives.

Entitled Privacy by Design and the Emerging Personal Data Ecosystem and including a foreword by Personal CEO Shane Green, the paper describes the tremendous opportunities and benefits of giving people true control over their information in the digital world. Commissioner Cavoukian highlights personal information as a new asset class and rightly concludes that companies in the personal data sector must adopt privacy by design principles if they are truly going to be user-centerd and user-driven. Politico has dubbed the report “one privacy paper to read this week”.

The paper represents a major contribution to the intellectual foundation of our sector and highlights Personal in a case study for successfully embedding privacy by design into our technology, business and legal framework and practices.

The messenger and the message could not be more perfectly matched. Commissioner Cavoukian originally coined “privacy by design” and its principles, which have been approved as a framework for privacy protection by regulators worldwide, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which recommended in its March 2012 report on consumer privacy that businesses build privacy by design into every stage of product development.

At Personal, privacy by design is central to our platform, company and culture, and we think the kind of user-centric model taking shape in the personal data ecosystem will become the norm. We’re not alone in believing this. Consider, for example, the World Economic Forum’s May 2012 report.

Importantly, the goal of Personal’s model is not to stop the flow of data or to have it held closely for privacy’s sake. Instead, with the right privacy protections and tools for individuals to properly leverage their information, we think even more data will flow, enhancing and enriching a person’s relationships with other people, organizations and apps.

We congratulate Commissioner Cavoukian on this white paper, and are proud to stand alongside others in it, including Mydex, Reputation.com, the Respect Network, SWIFT’s Digital Asset Grid project, Ctrl-Shift and the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium.

For more information, you can read Commissioner Cavoukian’s full paper and watch her video announcement.

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By Josh Galper in Power Shift