|By Andy Land||
|April 7, 2013 03:00 PM EDT||
Sharing personal information is central to the way people live, work and do business with each other today. And it's only going to become more so, as the Identity Economy emerges to establish a new paradigm for commercial interactions. This raises a number of interesting questions and concerns about the privacy of personal information.
Share and Share Alike
What does the sharing of personal information mean in the context of economic transactions? It specifically refers to consumers who are sharing information with companies and receiving something in return. It may be as simple as providing their information to enable a company to offer them a better service or more personalized experience. Or it may mean providing information to a company and giving the company permission to share with a trusted affiliate or partner in exchange for some benefit to the consumer. In many cases, the consumer is already sharing their personal information, either because the consumer provided it when registering for a particular service, or because the company has derived it from the consumer's use of the service.
Savvy consumers recognize that a lot of their personal information is accessible to companies they do business with. The idea posed by an identity-driven model for commerce is that this information could be utilized to make life easier and online interactions more delightful for consumers - if it could flow more freely on the consumer's behalf. Simplifying the authentication process (by overhauling how passwords are managed, for example) is part of this. But there's more to it than just making it easier to sign up and login to a service. It's about putting the consumer's digital exhaust to work in ways that go beyond its original intended use. For example:
- What if preferences and purchases made on one site could be used to personalize the consumer's experience on another site?
- What if real-time location information could be coupled with consumer intent or interest in a product to transform the consumer's shopping experience?
These and other similar questions frame the commercial possibilities that are driving what we call the Identity Economy. Let's take a look at their implications for managing customer data privacy.
What's Fear Got to Do with It?
Using personal information to fuel commercial activity is nothing new; entire companies are built on the premise of monetizing information, primarily by selling it for targeted advertising. However, companies built on this type of business model are often perceived as gathering and using personal information in a way that's somehow sneaky or underhanded.
- Ads for remodeling companies start popping up on someone's email just after she sends a message with "home repair recommendations" in the subject line.
- A member of a social network suddenly realizes the network is posting information about what music services he's listening to - though he doesn't remember agreeing to share this information with anyone.
That's just it: these users may have given permission to use their information, but they may have done so unknowingly, perhaps because the policy that was agreed to was obscure, overly generalized, or difficult to understand.
Under these circumstances, consumers are understandably fearful about their personal information being compromised by the companies with whom they share it. And the companies are often equally fearful of acting on opportunities to use information to improve the customer's experience and/or to create new sources of revenue - because they worry about being perceived as somehow unfairly exploiting information, or running afoul of laws governing data privacy. Concerns like these make data privacy one of the most important values that must be respected in the Identity Economy.
Overcoming Fear and Embracing Opportunity
Aside from this "stealth" model of obtaining and using personal information, the broader market does not seem to believe that a lack of transparency and control over the use of personal information is the right way to run a successful business.
To the contrary, many companies pursuing use cases involving the flow of information across applications and services take the privacy of their customers' personal data very seriously. In fact, their fear of unintentionally violating that privacy can make them reluctant to share it even when doing so would benefit the customer. For some, it's not worth the risk of alienating the customer -or worse, running afoul of privacy laws and regulations.
In many cases, this fear has nothing to do with sharing data with third parties (data brokers, advertisers, etc.) but instead involves sharing data across multiple lines of business within the same company. For instance, in many regulated industries, the information a consumer provides for service X cannot be shared with service Y at the same company. Quite literally, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing - by design. Further, if they are sharing this information, they are very concerned about how to ensure that the information is flowing according to the terms of the agreement under which it was captured, their internal privacy policies, and the laws and regulations that affect their business.
Fear, in this instance, is not entirely a bad thing. After all, the information is sensitive and could be exploited to the detriment of the individual from whom it was collected. But to embrace opportunities, companies must overcome this fear by applying technology to ensure that personal information is collected with consent, under the right circumstances and for the right reasons, and utilized according to the terms under which it was collected - all while providing control to the individual over how their information is put to good use. Companies that follow these principles will not only be able to overcome their fear of using this data to delight their customers, but also differentiate themselves from the crowd.
The opportunities to utilize personal information to create highly engaging and personalized experiences are immense, but so are the opportunities for this information to be exploited for harm. Fear, uncertainty and doubt abound, but they also signal an opportunity for innovation. Most companies that are responsible for stewarding this information take that responsibility very seriously. So, too, do the regulatory bodies and industry organizations that govern and guide these companies as they explore this new territory.
Establishing and Enforcing Evolving Privacy Rights in the U.S.
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights recently drafted by the White House is part of a larger US government blueprint to improve overall consumer privacy protection while still encouraging innovation in business and commerce. As the White House describes it, "this blueprint will guide efforts to give users more control over how their personal information is used on the Internet and to help businesses maintain consumer trust and grow in the rapidly changing digital environment."1 This goes directly to addressing the fears described earlier in this article that must be overcome for the Identity Economy to thrive - both consumer fear of sharing personal information and corporate fear of using that information.
The themes outlined in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights mimic the established "Fair Information Practice Principles" and include the following:
- Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.
- Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
- Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
- Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
- Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.
- Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
- Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to ensure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
Diving down into specific industries, there are more focused laws and regulations in place that govern and guide how companies deal with customer information. The telecommunications industry, for example, must comply with constantly evolving legislation that sets forth rules for how telcos can use what is called customer proprietary network information, or CPNI. Similarly, in the financial services industry, laws such as the Gramm- Leach-Bliley Act mandate how financial services firms can use consumers' personal information and how they communicate their use of this information. In health care, a significant portion of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulating the industry is concerned with protecting the privacy of patient information.
The View from the EU
Managing the privacy of customer data is as much a concern in other countries as it is in the United States - in fact, it's generally more of a concern. The European Union (EU), for example, has clearly established in its Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that the protection of personal data is a fundamental right of European citizens. The provisions are in clear language:
Protection of personal data
- Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
- Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
- Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.
This is an important concept to grasp when considering the European environment, and the Canadian environment is not much different than Europe. The U.S. simply does not have this same, comprehensive view of privacy. There are elements of these principles sprinkled throughout various sectors (health care, finance, etc.) in our society, but we do not view the protection of personal data as a fundamental right of our society. This is key.
Still, while the Europeans are much further along in defining and enforcing comprehensive privacy laws, most companies are still just beginning to put into operation the majority of the articles or rules defined in the existing and proposed regulations. For instance, most are well on their way to building a solid Data Protection Office and raising the internal awareness of data protection issues within their organization, but few, if any, have taken the steps necessary to place the individual in full control of their personal data. While a handful of companies are more mature in their compliance, most are not much further along than some progressive U.S. companies.
Ultimately, though, it's not a matter of if, but when. While there is much work to be done on implementing policies and measures that will bring companies into compliance with existing and proposed regulations, it's only a matter of time before mass adoption. In fact, the 2012 General Data Protection Regulation2, a proposed new legal framework for protection of personal data in the EU, could become law as early as mid- to late 2014. The proposed reform provides a broader scope of enforcement as its legal basis, places greater emphasis on individual control of data and enhances the responsibility assigned to data controllers and processors to demonstrate compliance.
The Privacy Cliff
The idea of a "fiscal cliff" dominated much of the economic and government news in the U.S. in 2012. Though it's certainly not as dramatic in nature, there is a sort of impending "privacy cliff" that all European and Canadian - and, soon enough, U.S. - companies will need to avoid falling over in the next few years. There are many months yet before the EU's 2012 General Data Protection Regulation is approved, adopted and in force as law, but the policies and measures that companies will need to define and operationalize in order to comply with the rules will require many months to implement. With the Safe Harbor agreement to provide "adequate protection," this also impacts companies doing business in the EU.
This is keenly true for large multinational service providers. As an example, consider the challenges surrounding the capture and management of end-user consent. Capturing informed (explicit) consent is one thing, but leveraging that consent decision at the point of access for every piece of personal data that a company might have on an individual raises the bar on the complexity (cost) of compliance. In the current environment where personal data can be spread among hundreds of systems, how does a company ensure and prove that a user's consent is being respected? This is much more involved than writing and posting a human-readable privacy notice on a website. It involves systematically changing the way that customer data is collected and consumed.
The wheels are already in motion, and companies in Europe and Canada are faced with the need to take action now. There will likely be similar regulation(s) passed in the U.S. that embody the principles defined in the EU reform. (Some of this already exists in laws governing specific industries, but a comprehensive federal law currently does not exist.)
Whether reform comes in the strengthening of existing regulations or the passing of more sweeping reforms, it presents companies with a tremendous opportunity. They can not only get ahead of the regulatory curve, but also differentiate themselves from the pack by investing in the protection of personal data. This also presents the opportunity to leverage business models in the Identity Economy that utilize personal information, instead of declining to pursue them out of fear. As developments in this constantly and rapidly changing arena continue, UnboundID will continue to develop solutions for companies that are participating in the Identity Economy.
- "We Can't Wait: Obama Administration Unveils Blueprint for a ‘Privacy Bill of Rights' to Protect Consumers Online," White House press release, February 23, 2012
- "Commission proposes a comprehensive reform of data protection rules to increase users' control of their data and to cut costs for businesses," Europa (EU official website) press release, January 25, 2012
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,648
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,940
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 2,042
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,207
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,047
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,104
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,910
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,927
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,884
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 2,029
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,084
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 2,144
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 2,066
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,734
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,794
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 2,071
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 2,246
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,002
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,354
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,228