29 de nov. 2014

Data: the most valuable commodity

Data is becoming a "commodity". The important point today is HOW we USE the data NOT the data itself. The data itself is like a barrel of oil: It's basically the same product regardless of the producer.

If we believe in this idea we could understand also that the current definition of "personal data" is evolving. The report published by World Economic Forum in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group in 2013 Unlocking the value of personal data: from collection to usage (2013) explains how the world and the use of personal data are changing:

"What is considered personal data is increasingly contextual; it changes with personal preferences, new applications, context of uses, and changes in cultural and social norms. Traditionally, organizations have used a variety of techniques to de-identify data and create value for society while protecting an individual’s privacy. Such data was not subject to the same rules as the Personal Identificable Information (PII) as an individual could not be identified from it.

Today technological advances and the ability to associate data across multiple sources is shifting boundaries of what is or is not PII, including potential re-identification of previously anonymized data.

This issue is the subject of significant debate with some arguing that this means that all data is effectively personally identifiable and should be treated as such. Others urge caution, arguing that this would curtail many of the beneficialuses of anonymous data with minimal gains in privacy. A shift in approach to thinking less about the data and more about the usage could offer a way forward.

If the usage impacts an individual directly it would require different levels of governance than data which is used in an aggregated and anonymized manner.

photo: (*) Photosolde