Heard at Davos, and the fourth industrial revolution

Heard at Davos, and the fourth industrial revolution. Image: Designed by Freepik
Written by Alex Grinberg

Alex Grinberg broaches the topic of privacy over data, security, and ownership, and the legislation that surrounds it.

Since Davos, the hot topic everyone is talking, blogging and writing about is privacy and data security. The World Economic Forum (WEF) over the past year commissioned several studies on the impact of social media, the internet and the overall effect on socio-environmental behavior. The research and discussions end result: the fourth industrial revolution!

What is the implication of a fourth industrial revolution, and how is this interconnected with privacy and data security? UBS produced a white paper for Davos 2016 – Extreme automation and connectivity: The global, regional, and investment complications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which intensively defines, explores and outlines the new revolution. Nicholas Davis, the World Economic Forum’s head of society and innovation, summarized the revolution’s two specific fields: automation and connectivity. In order to better understand the full-scale effects, changes, and impact of the upcoming fourth industrial revolution, here’s a brief breakdown (and differences between) the first three:

  • The first industrial revolution: mechanical production and steam power energy.
  • The second industrial revolution: mass production and electrical energy.
  • The third industrial revolution: electronics and IT.

The fourth industrial revolution is being driven by extreme automation and connectivity. A special feature of the fourth industrial revolution will be a wider implementation of artificial intelligence and big data. According to UBS, the fourth industrial revolution is defined as being ‘driven by extreme automation and extreme connectivity’. A number of radical implications arising from this revolution will have an extensive impact on all parts of society (global macro-economy, regional economics, and investment). The themes of autonomy, connectivity, and artificial intelligence (AI) in big data processing are raising concerns. Umair Haque, a recognized world thinker and publisher, said:

The problem of abuse is the greatest challenge the web faces today.

World leaders, influencers, and multinational corporations are faced with new and urgent concerns: security and privacy over the internet. The question is, how can citizens be protected when extreme connectivity is becoming a norm? And, more importantly, how can ethics, security and privacy be implemented? While the implications of automation and connectivity create new concerns, the future of the internet was listed sixth on the post-Davos concluding ‘10 biggest global challenges‘ list. The global challenges list highlighted the following concerns of this new privacy/security issue:

  • The challenge is to manage the seismic change.
  • How will this affect personal privacy and data security?

It’s evident from current social media discussions that privacy and data security issues can no longer be ignored. What’s interesting about Davos is the extensive research on the impact of technology – from an individual, regional, and global sphere, linking the three components and the consequences of the current fragile legal jurisdiction and lack of ethical mandate.

The Global Agenda Council on Social Media white paper – The Impact of Digital Content: Opportunities and Risks of Creating and Sharing Information Online – explores the evolving changes to business models. Numerous sub-issues of the impact of digital content and information sharing is discussed. Outlined in the discussion are the ethics of users, social networkers, information sharers and content uploads. The Internet Fragmentation: An Overview report takes the reader through a historical and legal timeline of the evolution of the internet, the legal implications and global concern over the phenomenal evolution, and highlights the fault lines that need to be addressed. Six points that I believe are relevant to privacy and data security (that are currently on the agenda, thanks to Davos) of many international stakeholders are:

  • Transfer of personally identifiable information transmitted across borders.
  • The concern over the different levels of protection afforded by the omnibus legislation being adopted in many European countries.
  • The 1980 OECD guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data and its revision in 2013.
  • The post-Snowden uptick in data localization proposals and policies.
  • Data localization.

It’s evident that several of the listed issues have been on the back-burner since the 1990s, and only due to recent developments and pressure has a shift of focus on the impact of data privacy been considered. Increased connectivity, cross-territorial data sharing, and internet fragmentation are resulting in a revision of data processing jurisdictions. This brings us to the most important point, which is legislation. Issues related to data ownership and the traditional legal framework are not necessarily equipped to address:

  • transparency
  • opt-in/opt-out mechanisms
  • creeping data collection
  • data hoarding.

These four points were the result of the EU vs Facebook case, where the fundamental concerns about data privacy and security were raised. EU vs Facebook is a transnational example; the differentiation of legislations between the US and Europe. The transparency of who has access to our data is unclear and the ‘ambiguity’ of consent for sharing data raises concerns. With the evolution of technology, social media and AI, companies can gain access to ‘data from users who have not explicitly consented to it’. The sharing of data without a user’s acknowledgment is easily accomplished through such mechanism such as tagging a friend, app usage, social media, and so on.

The final point highlighted is data hoarding, focusing on problems related to storing data. The complexities of data ownership, the legal limitations and raising public pressure are top of stakeholders’ agendas. With this complexity and numerous discussions, it’s no surprise that Michael Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies, was quoted as saying:

No app is free. You’re trading your privacy for your data.

This is an impactful and thought-provoking statement about how internet users are impacted by security, data sharing, and third party ‘benefits’ that feed on private, personal data.

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here.

About the author

Alex Grinberg

Alex Grinberg is founder and head of business development at eWise. He started his career in law and technology as senior legal counsel at IBM and Oracle, and founded eWise in 2000. He was CEO until 2011, during which time he led the company’s growth across the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.

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