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Information Commissioner Calls For Businesses To Restore Trust With GDPR

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Speakers also pinpoint GDPR as the start of an industry revolution

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has emphasised the importance of trust between businesses and consumers, as the countdown towards the Global Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) continues.

Speaking at the reveal of the 2017 DataIQ 100, a taxonomy of the UK’s key industry leaders who drive business success from the intelligent use of data, Denham explained how trust has been lost and the benefits that can come with bringing it back.

Where’s the trust?

“It used to be the case, not very long ago, that your data relationships were simple,” she said. “Your bank had your banking information, your fridge had your shopping preferences, your building society had your mortgage data. But now people look at the simple relationships that they used to have and they realise that they have become a lot more complex.

“Your supermarket wants to sell you mobile phones, your mobile phone wants to sell you a book and your book choices tell online retailers a lot about your shopping preferences. So if you add to all of this a security breach you might understand why individuals feel like they’ve lost control over their personal data.”

Elizabeth Denham

These complex relationships ultimately mean that consumers are now less willing to hand over their personal information, with “data demons” such as privacy and governance rearing their heads.

Denham encouraged businesses to think of GDPR as “not just a legal hurdle”, but instead “as a way of earning trust. With that trust you gain the social license to innovate with personal data. By demonstrating your trustworthiness to consumers and to the regulator, then you get to do innovative and imaginative things with people’s data to solve new problems or old ones.

“My message to you, is it’s not privacy or innovation, it’s privacy and innovation.”

Brave new world

A common theme running through the event was the idea of GDPR giving birth to a new phase of the industry, a more human-centric approach where a greater focus is placed on the role of the consumer.

“2017 is when we’re going to invite the consumer to this party, said Henry Lawson, CEO of autoGraph, “In 2017, excluding her or him is no longer acceptable. Commercially it’s no longer acceptable, morally it’s no longer acceptable and from next year it won’t be legally acceptable either.

Data Privacy Day

“The next 15 months is when regulations flip in favour of the consumer. As an industry, we have two choices. We can rail against that and disregard the very consumers who feed us, or we can bring them in, give them a say and watch as the consumer guides our marketing effectiveness to new heights.

He described this revolution as a sort of “data sufferage,” where consumers have the right “to be able to do with their data what they want. If you’re in the industry it’s scary, but also liberating”.

It was a point that Denham echoed, saying “what the GDPR is really about is putting the consumer and the citizen at the centre of your decisions”.

Quiz: Are you a privacy expert?