Novel generation and use of “big data” is feeding unprecedented innovation, including breakthrough approaches to finding a cure for cancer and figuring out how to feed 10 billion people by 2050. Through aggregation and analysis of data, businesses are also yielding new insights and identifying trends.  

However, individuals lack awareness of how organizations might protect their personal data. According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Intel, nearly two-thirds of American consumers have no awareness of who has access to data from their personal devices or how it is used, and half can’t correctly identify the definition of “anonymized data.”

Even so, data privacy is no longer just a “check the box” legal obligation. In 2014, U.S. data breaches hit yet another record high. Few industries have not been impacted by data security issues, leading the White House recently to call for stricter privacy policies for consumer and student data.

Despite the daunting challenges businesses face, redesigning data privacy strategies can accelerate innovation, and lead to more educated and loyal customers. Better data privacy puts people first, driving organization-wide awareness at the beginning of product and service development lifecycles.

In 2015, business leaders can participate actively in making privacy a priority by rethinking policies to increase customer trust that data is being used appropriately. Good customer relations calls for more transparency and accountability when collecting and using consumer data

The recent Data Privacy Day was one step towards addressing the challenge. Intel engaged in conversations with our partners as well as leaders from industries such as healthcare, education and smart cities. The efforts identified three areas for action: privacy policies, practices, and products.

  • Policies: The first step in developing a strong approach to data privacy is to require that data privacy policies become integrated at all levels of your organizational culture. This means crafting your policies to specifically address key areas of risk, and demonstrating accountability by implementing those policies across all levels of the business.
  • Practices: Now that policies are in place, it’s time to enact data privacy policy transparency with industry partners and customers. We must insist on quality and integrity in the execution of and adherence to those privacy policies, and role model customer privacy priority in the development and implementation of products and services.
  • Products: From a product perspective, businesses must implement a Privacy by Design approach to designing products and services which takes privacy into account throughout the whole engineering process, not as a mere afterthought. It’s not enough to simply implement this approach however – we should strive to continually improve product security and adherence to data privacy policies, as well as compete to be the first in customer preference due to consumer data privacy confidence.

Intel believes strongly in empowering consumers to play a more active role in protecting and sharing their personal data. Big data can be a powerful asset in successfully solving the world’s largest challenges. How quickly those contributions are realized increasingly depends on substantial commitments from business leaders to improve privacy, security and trust.

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