At the 2015 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, tech leaders from Salesforce and Yahoo were among those discussing the Future of the Internet. The panel, “In Tech We Trust“, highlighted the growing concern around trust and data.
“The digital revolution needs a trust revolution. Huge shifts are occurring as the world moves towards comprehensive information sharing via social media, cloud computing and big data. Systems of record (such as email) have become systems of engagement (such as social media) and are now moving towards systems of intelligence (data analytics). However, this progress cannot occur unless customers trust how their data is used. The challenge: more than 90% of consumers feel they have lost control of their data.”
Opt-In vs. Opt-Out
Vendors and apps often say that users can always opt-out. However, most people prefer a choice to opt-in. If technology wants to build trust, opt-in will need to be the model.
Update 2/2/2015: According to Lee Munson of SOPHOS, Facebook’s recently updated privacy allows its partners, “What’s App” and “Instagram”, access to users’ information. By continuing to use Facebook, users provide consent.
A Set of Universal Principles for Data Protection
At the WEF Annual Meeting, a set of universal data protection principles was called for.
- First, “consent” must always be requested and granted.
- Second, how personal data is used must be fully “transparent.”
- Third, heightened “accountability” must accompany higher levels of data access.
Is the Enterprise Cloud a Model for the Consumer Cloud?
“We all have to step up to another level of transparency, especially the vendors. So whether you are an enterprise vendor or a consumer vendor, we all need to open up a lot more to be able to say exactly where is the data, what’s going on with the data, who has the data, and if there’s a problem with the data – a security problem or some other issue with the data – immediate disclosure, complete and total transparency. No secrets. Because only through that transparency are we going to get to a higher level of trust. That is not where we are today.“We’re the enterprise cloud. Our customers are the GEs, the Philips, the BMWs, it’s their data. We can’t do anything without our customers saying what we can do. It’s their data. They tell where they want it, how they want to use it, what applications are using it. We can’t see it, the data is black to us, it’s encrypted. But that very much is a model from where the consumer companies are going to have to go. Enterprise companies can’t do anything without their customers saying it’s okay. That’s our agreement with our customers that we sign with them. In the consumer world, you don’t know what’s going on, and that is going to have to change. Total disclosure is critical.”
Trust is about weighing trade-offs – how much privacy do I have, how secure do I feel – what benefits do I get, in exchange? You need to afford the individual trace and control. The user’s own their data. They should be able to examine it, take it with them, bring it to other sites, bring it to other vendors that they trust more. Basically, have a system and a market that helps people make these trade-offs and these decisions. But they should have control over how they use the system, or whether they use the system at all. People have trouble making some of these trade-offs because the vendors are not being transparent enough, not providing enough controls and choice.”
Tim Berners-Lee told Davos that MIT is working on a new architecture for how data is stored. He proposed “Beneficent Apps.”
Is what I am doing beneficent? Basically, is it good for users? Suppose we have a brand, this is a beneficent app, that means while I am writing the app, you are going to pay me for the app, and I am going to think about what you want. That’s the business model we are going to see.
Terms of Service, Privacy Policies
Nick Gowing, moderator for the Davos panel, says that Terms and Conditions are not the small print, “No, that’s the Big Print.”
Terms of service and privacy policies may not identify what third parties can do with data. So even if you trust an app or service, you may not know what a third party can do with your data. This will become increasing important with the growth in consumer health data that is not necessarily patient data. In a world of convergence, the Internet of Things, wearable technologies and integrated health app platforms, we need to build with consent of the user.
To preserve trust, be transparent, and get consent of the user.
Consent means, we won’t use your data for any other purpose, unless you approve it.
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