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From Collection to Usage: Rethinking New Approaches to Personal Data

Lucy Jay-Kennedy, Senior Media Manager: +1 917 209 9483;

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  • New report, Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage, examines the need for new approaches in policies that enable the management of personal data
  • The report highlights the need to shift to governing the usage of data rather than the data itself, the importance of context, and the need to find new ways to engage the individual
  • The global principles governing the use of personal data need to be refreshed to ensure they are relevant in today’s hyperconnected world
  • More information on the report and the Forum’s Rethinking Personal Data initiative is available here

New York, USA, 28 February 2013 – A new approach to personal data is needed to strike a balance between protecting individuals and unlocking innovation, according to a new World Economic Forum report released today. Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage, in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), explores how the principles for using personal data may need to be refreshed to ensure the trusted flow of data for individuals, businesses and governments.

The report highlights outcomes from a nine-month multistakeholder dialogue on personal data, from business, civil society and government sharing insights on new ways to unlock social and economic value. Additionally, key government initiatives – particularly the proposed European Commission Data Protection Regulation and the US Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights – were discussed.

“The world has changed, yet our current approaches to managing personal data have not kept pace,” said Alan Marcus, Senior Director of IT and Telecommunications at the World Economic Forum. “We need to shift away from trying to control the regulation of data itself and to focus on the management of how data is used.”

A key insight from the report notes that the age of Big Data creates new opportunities and risks, especially as they relate to the privacy of individuals. A richer appreciation for context and new ways for engaging individuals beyond current notice and consent practices are key priorities on which global leaders should focus. Additionally, policy frameworks that focus on how data is used – rather than pre-emptively governing the data itself – are seen as critical for a balanced and sustainable personal data ecosystem.

“To unlock the value of data, we need to shift to a usage-based, contextual approach to managing rights and permissions,” said John Rose, Senior Partner at BCG. “Companies will have to establish principles and codes of conduct, develop tools and processes to manage compliance with them and rethink the way they engage consumers to ensure their trust.”

The report calls for establishing an updated set of principles and the means to uphold them in a hyperconnected world. In this light, there is a need to raise awareness on how technology can play a role in upholding principles by allowing permissions to flow with the data. Lastly, the report calls for greater evidence and “learning labs” for understanding the impact of when policies are implemented in the real world.

As part of a multi-year initiative entitled Rethinking Personal Data, which was launched in 2010, the World Economic Forum hosted an ongoing multistakeholder dialogue on personal data throughout 2012. The initiative engages a wide array of constituents from civil society, government and business. A community of top executives from AT&T, BCG, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, VimpelCom and Visa serves on its steering board.

Previously launched Forum reports from this initiative are Rethinking Personal Data: Strengthening Trust (2012) and Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class (2011).

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