Lack of trust in personal data use threatens digital economy – WEF

Lack of trust in how personal data is protected and used has the potential to jeopardize the economic and social value of this important asset class, according to a new World Economic Forum (WEF) report released May 16, 2012.

The new report, “Rethinking Personal Data: Strengthening Trust, which was developed in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, explores how the use of personal data can unlock value for governments, organizations and individuals.

The report highlighted that trust is declining given numerous high-profile data security breaches, rampant identity theft, a general lack of transparency in how personal data is monetized, and an absence of globally harmonized policies for privacy and the use of data.

With the Internet economy of the G20 estimated to nearly double to $ 4.2 trillion by 2016, its growth could be constrained if the flow of personal data is overly restricted, according to the WEF adding that areas including the financial services, healthcare, online retail and marketing, social media and others could be affected.

The new report noted that in today’s hyperconnected world, companies, governments and individuals all face challenges of unprecedented size, speed and complexity.

“The borderless flow of personal data requires individuals, business leaders and policy-makers to all coordinate in innovative ways to unlock its long-term value,” said Alan Marcus, Senior Director of IT and Telecommunications at the WEF.

Marcus added “Critical to these new models will be their ability to hold stakeholders accountable through principle-based policies.”

The use of personal data can create enormous value by identifying new efficiencies, understanding how to quickly respond to crisis situations and empowering individuals to more effectively engage in social, commercial and political activities, the report argued.

The report is a part of the WEF’s Rethinking Personal Data project which brings together private companies, public sector representatives, end-user privacy and rights groups, academics and topic experts to deepen the collective understanding of how a principled, collaborative and balanced personal data ecosystem can evolve.

By Ekow Quandzie

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