From GDPR to Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 2018 was a year where personal data privacy was pushed front and centre of the public consciousness and debate as never before.
So the big question now is how will events in 2019 take on and develop this? Here are our predictions for the next 12 months:
- GDPR will be emulated around the world, but with regional differences. Europe (and businesses with European customers) have had, since May of last year, the best personal data privacy legislation in the world. The UK has the GDPR principles enshrined in law, so will retain it after leaving the EU at the end of March, while others including the US, Australia, Brazil and Singapore are either already bringing in their own versions or looking to copy it. Exact text and aims will naturally vary, but the core themes of explicit and informed consent, individual control and data portability and the right to forget will be central to all legislation.
- There will be continuing debate that privacy inhibits innovation. Tied to the above, fears of legislation stifling change will continue, but legacy businesses will increasingly come around to the opportunity of greater data privacy as a way to get closer to their customers or users and serve them better. Google and Facebook already made just that point in the US Senate hearings at the end of last year and we expect this counter view, of individual ownership of data actually increasing innovation, to be both proved and commonly held as a belief as the year goes on. How? The Personal Data Economy (PDE) V2.0 will become ‘a thing’, while trend forecasters Garter have said that privacy will be a key theme of the coming year. Understanding that personal data ownership and control, plus its relation to innovation, is about more than just keeping it private will be key. Personal data control in 2019 means doing more with data, not less, and sharing it for mutual benefits with full privacy, security and consent. Overall, the privacy debate will shift from trying to secure data to doing more with it, while maintaining total privacy and security.
- Health data will become the key area that will enter the public consciousness. In the UK, US and elsewhere health ministers are increasingly advocating individuals owning their own data, and being in control of their diagnosis and treatment. We already know that patients care more when they are involved in their own treatment, so giving them control of their data is a natural next step. Patient centricity is gathering momentum worldwide and will be a key theme for 2019.
- But it won’t all be about health – new opportunities for business and consumer value will appear throughout other sectors, proving PDE V2.0. Terms such as MyData, the Internet of Me and others, which are bubbling under at the moment, will start to achieve widespread understanding and credence. Coupled with that are the inevitable legacy privacy and security ‘blow-ups’ – big new data scandals which will continue to emphasise the need for change. 2019 is also likely to see the first wave of prosecutions under GDPR. These will be big on technical detail and so not consumer-friendly in many ways, but their sheer weight and volume will also tell a story. As this happens, more companies will jockey to position themselves as being ‘right’ on data use. Expect, also, to see calls for greater calls for new and ethical privacy-preserving business from the likes of Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella. There is a strong chance, too, of ‘damascene conversions’ from major businesses that seem unlikely even today – look out for one or two really big shocks, where companies completely change their business model after realising the error of their previous ways.
- Identity will also be a big part of the conversation – in addition to personal data privacy and security, the concept of Self Sovereign Identity – where we each own our digital identity attributes – will start to be more widely known, although this is still in the reasonably early stages.
- Jumping on the bandwagon – because of the importance of the shift to the Internet of Me / PDE V2.0, there will be many companies trying to claim a piece of the new territory. While there can never be too much innovation, in the short term this is likely to cause some consumer confusion by the use of many new terms that may overlap and contradict.