Big Data And The German Dilemma

Reflections from the 10th Safer Internet Day Conference in Berlin, February 5th 2013

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Safer Internet Day Conference in Berlin, organized by the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and BITKOM, the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunication and New Media. The conference title, ‘Big Data – Gold Mine or Dynamite?’ set the scene; after my little introductory speech on what big data really means and why this is a relevant topic for all of us (industry, consumers, and government), the follow-up presentations pretty much focused either on the ‘gold mine’ or the ‘dynamite’ aspect. To come straight to the point: I was very surprised, if not slightly shocked at how deep a gap became visible between the industry on the one side and the government (mainly the data protection authorities) on the other side.

While industry representatives, spearheaded by the BITKOM president Prof. Dieter Kempf and speakers from IBM, IMS Health, SAS, and others, highlighted interesting showcases and future opportunities for big data, Peter Schaar, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, seemed to be on a crusade to protect ‘innocent citizens’ from the ‘baddies’ in the industry.

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Do You Think Of Consumers When It Comes To Data Security Policies And Controls?

Your customers are consumers too. They don’t turn into business bots when they set foot in the enterprise. Whether your organization sells a product or a service to enterprises or consumers, you’re interfacing with consumers who have opinions about security and privacy. S&R pros, you already know that you have to be on top of things like regulatory compliance (Hello HIPAA! Hi EU Data Protection Directive!) when creating policies and implementing controls. But what about consumer perceptions and behavior? Consider that*:

  • 49% of US online consumers are concerned about security and privacy when purchasing products online
  • 44% of EU online consumers say the same about sharing personal information to access a website
  • 39% of US online consumers express security and privacy concerns over sharing personal information to participate on a website (e.g, discussion boards, writing reviews)
  • 20% of EU online consumers are concerned about their security and privacy when downloading apps to their mobile phone
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