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Data revolution has created a ticking time bomb warns BCS

The UK is in a state of war over data warns BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. The claim, which comes ahead of the party conferences, is calling for individuals to have control of their own data. BCS wants to see the creation of a new industry of personal data management which will enable data sharing to benefit everyone including Government, businesses and individuals.

David Evans, Director of Policy at BCS explains: “The data revolution has created a ticking time bomb; sharing personal data is simply not working for anyone at the moment and the problem is in danger of worsening if no immediate action is taken. We are learning to lie as consumers, and businesses are using ever-more invasive techniques to learn about us.”

David continues: “We need to create an environment for a new industry of personal data management which will re-establish the positive social contract between businesses and consumers, putting an end to the war. The UK is uniquely placed to lead this new industry of data sharing. Individual data needs to be put under individual control in a way that will actually facilitate sharing and make a positive impact on society. In the same way banks protect our finances and facilitate our transactions we need personal data ‘banks’ which can protect and get the best deal for our data.”

Surveys regularly indicate that two thirds of the population in the UK will share data if there is some perceived benefit for example, music streaming services already use profiles to suggest music. Sharing data for free services has been one of the most successful business models of the Internet to date.

David says: “As we see on an almost daily basis the threat of harm from sharing data has the potential to negatively affect consumers’ experience; this will only continue to rise with the growth of the internet of things which will increase the amount of data being generated.

“Information security expertise does not protect individuals from mindless behaviour on the part of others. Like it or not, choosing not to share your data means individuals are opting not to participate in society. However, if used effectively the sharing of data can ultimately benefit everyone involved.”

Sharing data is a necessary social and economic function which is at its most powerful when it is aggregated and working to the collective benefit to suit all needs. If used to its full potential it can drive the consumer market and modernise public services. For example, allowing supermarkets to better understand the products consumers would like to buy in future helps both the business and consumer, having the health services collate specific data without consent may save lives.

David concludes: “There are so many benefits to society in making data sharing work well. At the moment it feels like we either choose not to participate in modern life, or submit ourselves to corporate whims and mistakes. We need some new choices”.

As part of its work to make IT good for society, BCS will be hosting panel debates on the subject of “How the British economy can get the most out of consumer data” at the Conservative and Labour party conferences.  

www.bcs.org/partyconf

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