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Paying for Gold: Will the GDPR usher in a global paradigm?

Not long ago, trend watchers began calling data “the new (black) gold”. Whether referring to oil or the element, the idea was clear – the massively profitable companies of the future would be those who can best leverage data.

What caused the trend? The internet and spawn of mobile devices have made data ubiquitous. We are always connected – whether sitting in front of the television, cooking or going for a jog, our data points are being collected by various applications. In many instances, this creates short term benefits. We can have the calories in our meals logged, our mileage logged, our driving routes recorded. At the same time, AI techniques such as machine learning are able to extract more value out of the existing data. All the data we’ve been collecting in our FitBits gets funneled into advanced algorithms that can predict when someone is getting seriously ill.

At the end of the day, the data revolution will grow to benefit the consumer. To a large extent, it already does. The more data Tesla collects on its self-driving cars, the better they can make them. The more people track their own health, the easier it will become to use apps to predict illness. But there is a darker side to the explosion of data. As algorithms grow stronger, there is a real fear that millions of data points collected about an individual could be put to use for nefarious ends. It would give the person or persons’ with the data a “God’s eye view” of an individual. If this dystopian future world is the threat, then GDPR is the antidote. The General Data Protection Regulation will come into effect for European companies and consumers on May 25th. No longer will it be possible to collect endless amounts of personal data without consent or some other “legitimate” interest. Also gone are the days when consent was not requested but demanded in exchange for service, and the real terms of that consent, obscured by overly complex language.

The GDPR offers a new model for data governance – one that is focused on the user and his or her consent. But even as Mark Zuckerberg promises Congress to comply with GDPR on a global scale , the socio-political climate in the US makes it unlikely that the US will follow with a similar piece of legislation quickly, if at all. The idea of protecting US competitiveness and its position as a global leader in tech development indicates that there is likely to be a showdown on Capitol Hill. To make matters more complex, the average American consumer appears to be less concerned than their European counterparts with giving away their “data” if it means innovative digital products and services.

So the question remains – will the GDPR be able to usher in a global paradigm?

At Mavim, we view compliance to GDPR is more than just a necessity – it offers concrete opportunities for the organizations that are paying attention. Compliance with GDPR will give organizations more insight into existing data flows. Attributes like when a piece of data was collected and from whom are now just as important as the collected data itself. These data practices can yield benefits beyond compliance – and advanced analytics techniques will foster new insights and even new business models out of the existing data.


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