Big data is the new oil. Every tech blog, magazine and news article highlights the promise of insights, efficiencies and innovation that big data offers. As with anything there are externalities, for big data privacy is a chief concern, and rightly so.
As the founder and CEO of tech startup Blyncsy, a player in the big data space, I spend hours each week thinking about the implications of technology on consumer privacy. At the forefront of each conversation I have with Blyncsy’s customers is the revolution that our data can unleash for them. In our case these issues are incredible and include everything from green-house gas reductions, government transparency and accountability to economic development and better planning at the government level; even smoother operations and higher profits for the private sector. Yet as amazing as our insights are they are lumped in with the privacy breaches that have affected countless companies and millions of consumers. Why? Because consumers are scared. It’s the obligation of the private sector to help assuage those fears by taking meaningful steps to protect the public.
At Blyncsy we’ve taken a critical eye towards ensuring that consumer privacy is protected. Internally that includes strong encryption and security mechanisms and externally de-identified and aggregated data. But, it’s not enough. That’s why we’re partnering with the State legislature in Utah to pass a monumental “Data Privacy Best Practices Act” (H.B. 369). This piece of legislation will protect consumers by removing the ability for government to use certain types of data to prosecute crimes and violate the location-data privacy of consumers. Additionally, this legislation will require data anonymization before the government can gain access to some data tools, even those used for traffic management purposes and it requires all of the private players to abide by the guidelines of anonymization that we believe are critical to ensuring the protection of consumers.
The world is quickly changing. As the pace accelerates, costs will fall, efficiency will rule the day and lives will improve. But in this technological race it is important that citizens, government and private sector players take the time to ensure that technology grows with consumers and not against them.