Data relating to defense, health and financial systems need to be regulated and managed to ensure superior outcomes along with privacy and protection to individuals and Institutions.
By Mohanish Verma
Generation of new data due to digitization is resulting in piling up billions of pieces of information. These need to be organized and analyzed for checking misuse and also for considering improving outcomes through positive actions by multiple agencies globally. Data relating to defense, health and financial systems need to be regulated and managed to ensure superior outcomes along with privacy and protection to individuals and Institutions.
The recent action by the Central Bank in India on some multinational financial organizations relating to credit cards has re- emphasized the importance of data management and regulations. Crucial information about customers and financial transactions are at stake. Banking and monetary data is of critical importance along with data relating to multiple other activities generated through digitized devices.
Types of data
The evolution of the internet and digitally driven economic, scientific and social activity as well as most regulatory transactions in different parts of the world has resulted in a deluge of data on a real-time basis. Data is being generated for someone entering a hotel or restaurant, using a credit card to buy products online, visiting a particular website, collecting weather information, movement of vehicles, innumerable scientific data collection, marketing and sales information, and innumerable other activities.
There is raw data available for any activity. The digital gadgets capture the data in various forms and details as they are designed and instructed to do through various programs. Data once generated remains available unless it is specifically destroyed or made inaccessible.
One form of categorization of data based on characteristics can be done in the following manner:
A. Structured Data: Most numerical. Only 10% of total data available.
B .Unstructured Data: photos, videos, pictures. 90% of total data generated
C. Geographic Data: maps and physical topography and structures.
D. Real-time Data: Youtube, Flicker, Vimeo data generated continuously.
E. Natural Language Data: generated through gadgets, cellphones, landlines etc.
F. Time Series Data: Sea tides, Sun spots, Dows Industrial Average etc
G. Event Data: Capturing different parts of any event, like an accident.
H. Network Data: Data generated through huge systems like Facebook, Twitter etc.
I. Linked Data: Data based on dissemination based on various web advancements from one level to another over time.
The quality and characteristics of different sets of data have different connotations and potential for processing, for use by data hunters and consumers globally.
The inability or lack of managing and regulating data can have dire consequences, if they fall into wrong hands. Sincere efforts are being considered to introduce regulation and guidelines for ensuring best utilization of such critical information and ensure privacy.
In the USA, there is still uncertainty over the data privacy laws in different states keeping in view the conflict of interest between consumer’s interests and the degree of flexibility in using data by the business and commercial establishments. More than 25 States in the USA have introduced data privacy bills and are in various stages of debate and discussion. Most States are however facing an uphill battle for being signed into law.
The EU has come up with General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018, replacing it with an earlier version of 1995. Individual rights over data have been strengthened and businesses have been asked to be more responsible with using consumer data. Maintaining an audit trail, right to get data erased are some important features added.
Data Protection Act 2018 in the UK ensures stronger rights and protection to individuals and consumers. Processing of personal data, use of the data and right to get it erased are some crucial features of this legislation.
In India the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 relating to data regulation is also under active consideration and the issue of privacy is raising concerns both in media and judicial forums including the High Court and Supreme Court. Solutions and legislation are neither simple nor easy to formulate in a rapidly dynamic scenario driven by digital technology.
As per UNCTAD, 58% countries had some form of legislation on data protection, 10% had draft legislation, 21% with no legislation and 12% with no data.
Protection and Monetization of Data
Data provides objectivity in understanding the status of any activity or object and assess its potential and value. It provides instant answers to many queries needed in multiple commercial and non – commercial activities at a global level.
The concepts of “PDE” or Personal Data Economy have catapulted the sensitivity of personal data of individuals. Various Internet Service providers have been initiating special services to provide protection from use of personal data while using the internet or digital platforms. The concept of value and sale of personal data and individuals being paid for it through nano-payments has been evolved, though they challenge the already large data banks available with many internet giants.
The importance of managing data and providing privacy to individuals has been a rising concern at a global level. The concept of Pay for privacy “PFP”, envisages payment of higher prices by consumers to ensure that their data is not used by others. This alternative model to PDE where individual data gets a monetized value.
A 2017 survey in 10 countries revealed that around 48 percent of consumers were apprehensive that their personal data would be disclosed or misused, without their knowledge or permission.
There is immense concern in most emerging markets about the potential of such data being generated based on internet activities on various platforms, the lack of regulation and control in most countries and the potential for influencing personal and group behaviors in many territories.
The IOT (Internet of Things) is already a huge market with a $143 billion market in 2017 and growing. Various international surveys have revealed that a majority of consumers (74%) are concerned to know who and how their data is being used. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) have been developed to ensure a higher degree of privacy, on payment of extra charges. The future certainly calls for evolution of similar programs and mechanisms to provide confidence to users, apart from refined regulations on use and regulation of data being generated by individuals as well as other entities and institutions all over the world.
(The author is an IRS Officer, also an ex-Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University, USA. The views expressed are personal and do not represent the views of the Government of India nor does it reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)