What’s next for data privacy?
At a CES 2021 session featuring privacy experts from Amazon.com, Google and Twitter, panelists agreed that, while data transparency is critical, a “patchwork” of privacy rules across areas may increasingly undermine the benefits of the internet.
“We learned [in 2020] that privacy is very much a human right, but that there are different visions and approaches to enabling it,” Rajeev Chand, moderator and partner at Wing Venture Capital, said at the start of the session that took place in December.
The panel’s conclusions included:
- GDPR, the EU’s data protection law that passed in 2018, has been a major catalyst driving companies to commit to privacy protections globally. Consumers have more ways to access, delete and otherwise control their data.
- Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their data is used online.
- Due to the pandemic, consumers have been significantly relying more on technology than in the past to stay connected and tackle life’s tasks remotely.
The increased use and awareness around data has made transparency more important.
Anne Toth, director, Alexa Trust at Amazon, stated, “It’s just going to make it more essential for us to demonstrate again and again, over and over, the ways in which we’re raising the bar on privacy and transparency and trust for our customers.”
Damien Kieran, chief privacy officer, Twitter, believes transparency around artificial intelligence and machine learning will become more important “as those technologies become more ubiquitous.”
Still, Mr. Kieran cautioned that disparate privacy regulations have the “potential for a balkanization of the internet, balkanization of services.” For instance, Twitter may have different settings, controls and overall experience depending on the region.
Keith Enright, Google’s chief privacy officer, said the challenge the tech industry is “increasingly dealing with is data is driving everything.” Legal requirements will consequently increasingly be revised or reinterpreted based on the movement and governance of data, he believes.
While the main priority is to “keep users safe online,” Mr. Enright said Google also has to recognize “other values,” including freedom of expression, competition and supporting economic growth. “We want to make sure that we are working with all the relevant communities so that we’re addressing all of those obligations responsibly.”
Panelists agreed that a U.S. federal privacy law is slightly more likely with the arrival of the Biden administration.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s the ideal outcome from the data privacy debate for retailers? Will customer concerns about the security and privacy of their online data impede personalized marketing at scale? Do you agree that different privacy laws across regions will degrade the online experience for consumers?