Businesses need to take a lead role in ensuring that our data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands

Businesses need to take a lead role in ensuring that our data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands

Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Tata CommunicationsSrinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Tata Communications

“Data Protection Day should serve as a wakeup call for both consumer and companies on the realities of keeping data safe in 2020. While everyone has heard the warnings about keeping personal data safe online, millions of people across the globe are parting with copious amounts of personal data every minute of every day, leaving data traces behind in a literal cookie trail. This is despite us being more aware of the value of our data than ever before.”

“Sadly, this universal truth is at constant war with our impatient, always-connected brain, which urges us to scroll through terms and conditions as quickly as physically possible so that we can access what’s on the other side. Effectively we are signing away our data ownership in a matter of seconds each time. And once that’s gone, you can never get it back. Privacy is a Pandora’s Box in that sense. It’s easy to say that there should be more education among consumers, but ultimately so much of our data already sits within online services’ databases globally, it’s already nearly impossible for individuals to take back control of their digital profile.

“On the flip side, businesses which have been collecting this data for so long are also now in a difficult position. The data sprawl that enterprises have created is expansive and the cost of keeping it secure will be significant. Today, businesses need to take a leading role in ensuring that our data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, as the impact has been grave for users and businesses alike. Realistically though, we will need to accept a trade-off between what we can and can’t secure. More manual error-based issues can and will occur, so there needs to be a mitigating framework in place to stop errors wherever possible, but also to handle these breaches when they do occur.

“Yet, in spite of the acres of negative news around data misuse, collecting and using personal data should not be considered a mortal sin. If you look past big business, there are many other use cases for data, such as scientific experiments or health developments which drive new social value. If we cut off the access to all data, we risk losing out on a lot of valuable insights and new discoveries. But this is only the case when data is in the right hands. Businesses who do collect data should have a high degree of responsibility for that data – and that, of course, includes culpability when things go wrong.”