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Can Businesses Effectively Work Around Privacy Concerns in The Autonomous Era?

I recently had the opportunity to join the TC Sessions on Enterprise organized by TechCrunch. I was part of the panel discussion on ‘the future of data in an evolving landscape.’ I shared my views on how governments have a pivotal role to play in a data-centric world. Here is what I said.

What distinguishes data that is okay vs. not okay to use?

Data having context around a professional profile of an individual could be easily used by businesses to deliver professional services: however, data about individual’s personal space should be used only with the consent and for defined purposes and that too exclusively by the direct party. Any widespread distribution/or utilization is an infringement of privacy and is unethical.

I think its co-responsibility of social media platforms, individuals, and businesses to be careful while sharing and distributing personal information. It may be fashionable to share and update information about your personality and location, but at the same time, one needs to be careful while selecting their network and public platform and what they want to share on such platforms.

In this regulatory environment, are there ways that companies can create a competitive advantage from their treatment of customer data?

GDPR has, for sure, helped improve trust and confidence of the general public and of course, it has also been an excellent business for lawyers. Responsible companies have taken it seriously, and quite a few of small and medium companies have exited European market due to added overhead and cost of scrutinizing by a third party, which is not necessarily the most positive trend.

What types of startups are enabled by the business environment conditions we have discussed above?

New startups have to be very innovative in identifying the information needs and make use of the publicly available data to add value to deliver their unique services. I don’t think new startups have to be apprehensive about their future.

Are the conversations of data around autonomous vehicles similar to those in business contexts like we’ve been hearing?

Yes, autonomous driving vehicles market does have its stakes and concerns around privacy. Especially autonomous cars would be collecting information about almost every activity in and around the vehicles. Moreover, the machine would be well equipped to receive, process, and distribute an enormous amount of data. So personal privacy infringement threats are very high. If you look at the aviation industry, in which an aircraft is a kind of autonomous vehicle, manufacturer records information about various components in real-time, and I am sure the same would be the case of autonomous cars.

Does this view influence the broader conversations (and regulation) around data privacy?

We are not yet there. Currently, discussions are more revolving around how autonomous cars would be reacting to situations leading to public safety, liability, insurance, and overall legality. At the same time, geospatial agencies are deliberating towards international geodetic reference systems, and high definition maps on a common platform as well as standard and sharing protocols between multiple manufacturers of different kind of autonomous vehicles.


Watch the video of the panel discussion here

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