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Driving privacy AND growth by building trust around personal data

Posted on: Friday 31st of January 2014

As part of European Data Protection week the EU announced that it expects its draft new proposals for data protection to be passed by the European parliament in April.

Many are sceptical – the lobbying around these proposals has been so intense there’s bound to be more twists and turns along the way, they argue.

Surprisingly, however, there’s been very little scrutiny into the assumptions behind both the lobbying, both for and against the proposals. The biggest assumption, which seems to be accepted largely by both sides, is that we have to make a choice between privacy or innovation and growth: we can’t have both.

If we have strict privacy rules, innovation and growth will suffer. And if we want innovation and growth, privacy will have to suffer.

Our forthcoming Personal Information Economy conference challenges that assumption.

We will be arguing that the opposite is true. Without what people call ‘privacy’ we can not have sustained growth, because without trust individuals will be increasingly unwilling to share their data. In fact, building trust around personal data could be one of the best ways of driving economic growth, especially if it focuses on new services that empower individuals with their data.

Trust frameworks

The big question is how to build and sustain this trust?

One answer is trust frameworks – which create standard, enforceable rules for all parties when dealing with each other online. Trust frameworks free up individuals and companies to focus on the content of their transactions, rather than worrying about t&cs and related processes.

Why does this enable innovation and growth?

1) in the short term, by building trust it encourages people to do business with each other online.

2) in the longer term, it enables richer data sharing. Trust frameworks started with a narrow focus on assuring identity on line – building confidence that we are indeed dealing with people who are what they say they are. But a natural progression is to attach additional attributes to these identities, starting with basics like ‘proof of age’ or ‘has a valid driving licence’ and expanding from there to enable any sort of personal data to be shared.

Right now there’s burgeoning interest and activity in the trust framework market. We just published a paper exploring why this is happening, what trust frameworks do and how, and what will happen next.

Trust Frameworks: Driving Privacy and Growth is free to subscribers.