• Big data presents a huge opportunity to fuel the next century of innovation, but challenges remain surrounding data privacy.
  • According to a recent survey by Mastercard, most people believe business needs to do more to protect data.
  • The company launched the Data Responsibility Imperative, outlining principles and practices for responsible data use.

In today’s wired and interconnected world, our actions affect one another more than ever. Our supply chains are intertwined, our technology is interoperable and our relationships are interdependent.

This connected world is collecting and producing unprecedented amounts of individualized data on any number of topics. This data in turn creates insights that power innovation, allowing businesses, governments and society to advance our understanding of the world – and to open up possibilities that were unimaginable only a short time ago.

But this incredible and novel use of information has created tension surrounding privacy and the use of personal information, leading us to a turning point in society.

Individuals are confused about how their data is being used, how to control the flow of their data and the growing number of privacy notices, new laws and stories about data breaches, which make them only more concerned. When we recently surveyed individuals and business leaders about what they thought was missing in this data conversation, we found most people believe enterprises need to do more to protect data. The survey indicated a lack of trust by all parties, which is not only bad for business, but also threatens our ability to innovate solutions to solve society’s common problems.

Ultimately it comes down to one thing: leadership. Businesses have a responsibility to individuals and society as a whole in everything they do, but how they manage data is more important than ever.

To fuel the next century of innovation, as well as economic and social growth around the world, responsible data practices must be developed as part of data design efforts. The availability of data can advance our ability to design new products, minimize barriers and create solutions across industries and geographies. It can add convenience to society, and improve how resources, aid and opportunities are distributed. The World Economic Forum has projected that $3 trillion in annual economic value could be created by connecting data across institutional and geographic borders. But this is only possible – and sustainable – if data practices are held to high standards.

What is the World Economic Forum doing on cybersecurity

The World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust aims to spearhead global cooperation and collective responses to growing cyber challenges, ultimately to harness and safeguard the full benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The platform seeks to deliver impact through facilitating the creation of security-by-design and security-by-default solutions across industry sectors, developing policy frameworks where needed; encouraging broader cooperative arrangements and shaping global governance; building communities to successfully tackle cyber challenges across the public and private sectors; and impacting agenda setting, to elevate some of the most pressing issues.

Platform activities focus on three main challenges:

Strengthening Global Cooperation for Digital Trust and Security - to increase global cooperation between the public and private sectors in addressing key challenges to security and trust posed by a digital landscape currently lacking effective cooperation at legal and policy levels, effective market incentives, and cooperation between stakeholders at the operational level across the ecosystem.Securing Future Digital Networks and Technology - to identify cybersecurity challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies and accelerate solutions and incentives to ensure digital trust in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.Building Skills and Capabilities for the Digital Future - to coordinate and promote initiatives to address the global deficit in professional skills, effective leadership and adequate capabilities in the cyber domain.

The platform is working on a number of ongoing activities to meet these challenges. Current initiatives include our successful work with a range of public- and private-sector partners to develop a clear and coherent cybersecurity vision for the electricity industry in the form of Board Principles for managing cyber risk in the electricity ecosystem and a complete framework, created in collaboration with the Forum’s investment community, enabling investors to assess the security preparedness of target companies, contributing to raising internal cybersecurity awareness.

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To enable the “everyone economy,” we must first overcome the data deficit. We need accurate, high-quality information that reflects all members of society. And, organizations must honor the rights of all individuals in their data practices. When it comes to personal data, individuals own it, control it and have the right to benefit from the use of it. Then, it’s incumbent on organizations and enterprises to protect it.

Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum, recently said, “Data is more than just a valuable business asset; principled, moral data practices are a corporate responsibility. In the long run, companies that build trust through principled uses of data – even when there is a short-term cost – will be best suited to thrive in a data-driven economy.”

Put simply, responsible data practices are sustainable business practices.

Responsible data practices mean not only complying with law, but also thinking ahead to ensure that as data innovation evolves, ethical data practices evolve, too. It means principles-based data design with the individual at the center.

This thinking informed our development of the Data Responsibility Imperative. Data can make a fundamental contribution to a sustainable, beneficial and inclusive world – but only if we let it.

The first data responsibility principle? Companies must uphold best-in-class security and privacy principles, says Mastercard.
Image: Mastercard

At Mastercard, we transmit and handle the data of millions of people, financial institutions, merchants and other customers – and put our commitment to responsible data practices to work every day. We do this by:

  • Embracing a future-forward, highly governed approach to building products and deploying innovative technologies like AI, ensuring practices and programs are sound. Transparency is one way of achieving this. IBM has pledged to be transparent by clearly stating the purpose of AI usage, being open about major sources of data and by increasing knowledge-sharing between stakeholders.
  • Maintaining multiple layers of security, including tokenization and encryption, to protect information in the physical world, the digital world and across the Internet of Things.
  • Using data-driven insights to measure economic vibrancy, address the needs of the underserved and advance smarter cities through our Center for Inclusive Growth. Mastercard launched the Data Fellows program, which brought six highly regarded data scientists from diverse academic and government institutions to spend 12 months collaborating with Mastercard’s data scientists. Collectively, they are studying trends and developing insights to help policymakers implement new programs to improve the economic growth and financial inclusion of the world’s most vulnerable communities, all while using methods to ensure the safety, security and privacy of information.
  • Ensuring we comply with and advance strong privacy regulations that emphasize individual choice and control. This includes working on the EU-General Data Protection Regulation and our call for national privacy regulation in the US. We also require third parties to comply with the same levels of compliance standards.
  • Making our “My Data” portal available globally so every individual can see and manage their data – or delete it – anytime, anywhere. We’re continuously improving that experience to provide greater transparency.

Data responsibility is an imperative all data-centric organizations must embrace together. We’re inviting other responsible data organizations to publish their own principles, and to join us in designing the next generation of data innovation practices – practices that are responsible and sustainable for the future.