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Big Data, Bigger Problems: Who Owns Your Data?

On April 17, 2018, the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto hosted a panel discussion on privacy appropriately titled:  Big Data, Bigger Problems: Who Owns Your Data?  A lively discussion ensued revolving around recent privacy incidents and the influence that social media and the public perception of companies has to play in the privacy space.
Trust, as an overarching principle guiding business, was a recurring theme.  In addition to using data lawfully, organizations are well-advised to consider developing ethical and transparent policies to establish a relationship of trust with consumers. While legal consent continues to be generally required for organizations to collect and use one’s data, there appeared to be a consensus among the speakers and the participants on the increased importance of potential public reaction when planning the information lifecycle of a company’s data assets.

This importance of trust was emphasized as well this week in the Globe and Mail on April 15, where Dominic Fortin, CIO at district m, addressed the issue with clarity…

“ the challenge of building ethical and transparent frameworks that will contribute to establishing trust between consumers, service providers and advertisers, and make advertising a healthy part of society. Only if that challenge is met will we be able to trust corporations offering a free service to consumers, such as a social network, to generate their revenue from ethical and lawful use of the data they have gathered for advertising purposes.”

In today’s rapidly changing environment where public perception may be as important as regulatory oversight, applying a long-term, risk-based approach to the collection, use, storage and eventual deletion of personal information just makes business sense.