Data Privacy Using

How Facebook plans to change the face of personal data

It’s an exciting time for personal data – and the time is now to innovate around the defining debate of our time.

That’s the view of Stephen Deadman, Facebook’s global deputy chief privacy officer, who has just launched an impassioned plea for a new debate and structures that will maximise the use of data for innovation while preserving individual freedoms such as the right to privacy.

In launching a consultation report aimed at creating a new coalition on personal data (in which participated), he pointed out that the current debate around who should share, use and be protected by data stemmed back to the dawn of computing, when no-one anticipated how important the person in personal data would become.

He said: “As a result, many now think there is an unavoidable trade-off between two apparently opposing forces – the desire for innovation and growth, and the right to privacy and security. That if you want innovation and growth you must be prepared to sacrifice privacy, and that if you want data protection and privacy it will have to come at the expense of innovation and growth. Neither is true.”

In fact, he says, what we have is the worst of both worlds – traditional industries being overtaken by more innovative technologies, and plummeting consumer confidence and trust despite decades of regulation designed to create the opposite. And the debate between the two sides is becoming increasingly adversarial – a war on data, as we have called it.

But yet, as he also pointed out: “No one wants a trade-off between privacy and innovation. I can’t remember the last time I met a business leader who thinks riding roughshod over people’s fundamental rights is a good idea. Likewise, none of the many policy makers and regulators I’ve met over the years actually wants to stifle growth and innovation. We all want both.”

And this is so true, but rarely understood or acted on – which needs to change, and fast.

At the launch, he quoted as one of three business from the 175 who took part who exemplified everything he wanted the new data economy to be: “Consumers want more control over their data. They want to get more value from their data and entrepreneurs are now rushing to give them both. Just look at, which is creating a user-controlled marketplace around personal data.”

And we’re proud to be at the forefront of innovation in a vastly important area that affects each of us.

But we all need to be moving and pulling in the same direction if this new movement around personal data is to achieve its full potential.

It’s great news that Facebook is launching a new collaboration over personal data, based on its work over the past 12 months – big names getting on board is always important to any new set of structures and thinking being adopted.

But, as Stephen says, we all have our part to play: “Europe has just adopted a new framework for data protection. But this is just the start – the success or failure of the GDPR is ultimately in the hands of regulators and industry. If the intention is to enable Europe to capitalise on its enormous creative talents, we need to find ways to harness that creativity to deliver the things and experiences that people want – including the way people’s data is controlled or protected.

“That creativity will largely need to come from industry – and our plea to policy makers and regulators is to give industry the space to act and innovate in this direction. We will need to adopt a new collaborative approach: If we’re going to build people’s trust in European industry and regulation, we need to start by building trust between industry and regulators.”

1 comment

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