QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Denham says they key thing people care about: Trust in the rules and regulations governing technology
- The following are excerpts of a speech by outgoing British information commissioner Elizabeth Denham, delivered to the Chartered Institute for IT. She took office in 2016.
” . . . Clearly much has changed since 2016. The past couple of years have seen an acceleration in the take-up of digital services, alongside a growing awareness of privacy rights and their value. And that’s made my world, and your worlds, look a whole lot different.
” . . . A key message of that first speech was that organizations should not be thinking about privacy or innovation, but about privacy and innovation. That remains as true today as ever. It was central through the pandemic, as the value of data protection as an enabler shone through, encouraging people to trust innovation by showing that their views are being respected.
” . . . [T]he value of data protection as enabling innovation is greater than ever, whether that’s in enabling contact tracing apps or in protecting firms from cyber attack. Privacy, cyber security, considering the impact of digital innovation – these are all board level concerns.
“What is crucial, though, is that amid the pace of change, we don’t forget this relationship between innovation and privacy . . . . Transparency is key here. And by that I mean real transparency: sensible explanations of how data is being used, the benefits that will result, and taking the time to check people understand. Regulation plays an important role here too.
“[A] study earlier this year showed the single biggest predictor of whether someone believed in the role of digital innovation in response to the pandemic was not their level of concern about the pandemic, nor their age or education. It was trust in the rules and regulation governing the technology . . . But no matter how the technology evolves and the world changes, any future onstant.
” . . . With that in mind, I am deeply concerned about any changes to the data protection regime that would remove the centrality of fairness in how people’s data is used. I am thinking specifically of AI and algorithms here, and questions in the consultation about the TIGGR proposal to remove the right to human review of automated decisions. This feels like a step backwards.”
“AI and algorithms rely on the data that is fed into them, in order to produce the world-changing outputs that come out the other end. Put simply, if people start to mistrust those outputs, then they’ll start to block their data being used as an input. Building that trust starts with transparency, and continues in a commitment to fairness wherever people’s data is used. Without that trust, we risk losing so many opportunities that technologies can offer our society.”