Feb 12, 201911:12 AMLegal Login
with Mindi Giftos
Balancing data security and data commercialization
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Evolving discourse on data privacy
Partly due to the GDPR, this past year witnessed a stark change in the tone and substance of how we talk about data privacy. Until 2018, the bedrock principle of how the “free” internet operated was largely unchallenged in mainstream discourse. That is, people largely accepted that, in order to access the plethora of free services online, the providers of those services collected personal data and commercialized it. But the GDPR has changed this balance in Europe and it will be interesting to see whether these norms required by the GDPR continue to proliferate across the globe, particularly in view of the continuing exposures of data breaches involving personal data.
There have been many recent high-profile disclosures of misappropriation of data, namely Facebook (including its Cambridge Analytica revelations), Marriott, MyFitnessPal, and even the U.S. Postal Service. There are also continuing inquiries into the use of personal data to target social media messages to users in order to interfere in the 2016 U.S. electoral cycle. These politically charged events — in concert with daily revelations of data mishandling — have led to a reappraisal of the free internet business model and have underscored the rapid implementation of data privacy regulation.
Striking the right balance
The GDPR by itself would have caused a global re-evaluation of the competing rights of business enterprises and individuals, but the context into which the GDPR (the regulations were adopted two years ago) came to life, and the continued exposure of personal information through data breaches, have reinforced the notion that something important has changed in consumers’ approach to data privacy.
We have reached, it seems, an inflection point, and the conversation to follow will likely be more serious and practical than those that came before, particularly in view of the expanded data collection necessary to realize the benefits offered through the internet of things and the proliferation of connected devices. Given that we have only scratched the surface of what is possible in the wired and networked world we have created — a world in which our devices speak to one another in a language we cannot hear, generating even more data — the turn toward informed and serious conversation as to how to protect individuals while also recognizing important commercial benefits that support continued innovation was long overdue.
Bob Bowman is a Denver-based partner in Husch Blackwell’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation industry group and a co-leader of the firm’s internet of things team.
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