With data comes great responsibility: Hans Paul Burkner, Boston Consulting Group

Burkner, Chairman, Boston Consulting Group says the debate on data ownership and data inheritance is coming up in a big way in the days to come

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Feb 26, 2019 8:45 AM
Hans Paul Berkner

With data comes responsibility but who is responsible for the data? Is it the company one shares data with or an individual? Breaking down the privacy and security debate Hans Paul Burker, Chairman, Boston Consulting Group says, “If you think a certain data is very important to you keep it to yourself because once you share it anywhere it becomes public and no one out there is protecting it for you.”

In a chat with exchange4media, Burkner talks about who really owns the data.

Edited excerpts:

What is consent in the digital age? Is the end user even aware what he has given consent to while using an app or device?

I don’t think that people consciously give consent. A lot of people think that what they are doing or talking about online is not important and it doesn’t matter but that isn’t the truth. When you are taking an issue/information on a public platform you are giving consent for it be read or interpreted. We have examples of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Has the tighter EU norms on privacy has had any actual impact on the end user?

So far it’s more impactful for EU only. While it makes lives difficult for companies to get pro-active consent I think it is only the beginning of finding out what works and what doesn’t.

If data is a commodity who has the first ownership? The user himself/herself, the app/device they have given access to and the third party? Can anyone actually withdraw consent on the use of data after releasing it?

I see the debate on data ownership coming up in a big way in the days to come. There are already discussions of data inheritance. There are cases when a parent has lost their child to suicide and they want to access their Facebook or other social media accounts to see what the person was up to. If someone dies we still don’t know who owns the data. All these things needs to be resolved It will take decades for the scenario to sort out.

Speaking strictly in Indian context looking at the impending general election, how do you see personal data being used or even misused by those seeking votes?

I think what is probably happening is that people trying to understand the key opportunity or challenge for personalisation. Based on what is your inclination is some messages are being reinforced exactly how we saw it in the US elections. It’s the genie out of the bottle it will continue to happen. People do read up a lot online so all you have to do is just create a blog or something and feed it with the right kind of messages and likeminded people will come and assemble at that. This is going to happen all across the world a lot. This is the kind of reinforcement that is happening at the moment.

Finally is anything private between Facebook, Apple, Google and these Chinese device makers?  

If you want to keep something private just keep it to yourself don’t share it online at all. I see people sharing very private information on online platforms that has thousands of people on them more often on that you don’t even know the people. The moment you share it on social media in any form it is public. Nobody will protect it for you. There is no full proof system no matter what protection is being used. You need to be aware of this. So you have to have plans both as a company and as an individual on how to secure your data. With data comes great responsibility. There is no reason to believe that your data is unimportant because you are a small identity. Very small firms are being hacked so every data counts and hence we need to handle it responsibly.

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