Shifting the Business Paradigm for Data and Privacy with a Race to the Top
15:45 - 16:30
The use of personally-identifiable information (PII) by businesses has become the subject of considerable public and political debate. Firms see it in their economic interest to collect the data, to sell higher-priced, more targeted ads, to potentially improve service delivery, or to become an acquisition target. To differentiate themselves against competitors such firms may collect even more PII in more intrusive ways.
This data allows firms with access to PII to identify individuals with high resolution. As more firms have collected more PII, and awareness of abuses by a small fraction of firms has risen, a real backlash to the tech sector has grown. We can call this current pattern a “race to the bottom” in which the entire industry collectively loses value.
In the absence of global norms, policies, and strong governance systems, we have data anarchy. It creates significant risk for individuals, whose data could be used for surveillance purposes, to exclude them from societal benefits, and to exploit them. It also creates immense risk for businesses and for investors. Well-intentioned companies cannot find clear guidance with all of the competing voices and practices pulling them in different directions. When firms decide to shift the paradigm, self-regulate at a higher, human-centered standard, and build the appropriate business models to support it, they join the “race to the top”.