The Data Governance Challenge in the Era of Digital Identity

If data is today’s most prevalent commodity, data governance is its biggest hurdle. As tech companies mine this new ocean of data, how can businesses ensure that they establish the right data governance standards to maximize the information’s value and minimize its risk?

That was one of the key topics of discussion at last month’s K(NO)W Identity conference. The event’s first edition brought together stakeholders from across the industry spectrum to discuss the fate of identity in the digital era where the very concept of what constitutes an identity is rapidly evolving. DemystData General Counsel Stefanie Schmidt joined a panel of experts from Bryan Cave LLP, Equifax, K&L GatesLLP, and SecurityScorecard to discuss the practical challenges posed by data regulations.

In her view, the lack of a unifying framework for data usage in a new borderless network is a fundamental challenge with far-reaching repercussions. As an example, a citizen of both Germany and the US, she highlighted how both countries typically have vastly different approaches and expectations when it comes to regulatory standards. On the one hand, a German watchdog recently ordered the market to remove a doll capable of accessing the internet via speech recognition software as the inclusion of this technology automatically classified the toy as ‘illegal espionage apparatus’. On the other side of the Atlantic, Congress overturned an Obama-era internet privacy regulation, turning internet service providers into the de facto controller of data privacy standards for businesses and consumers.

The challenge thus becomes about understanding what entities are legally allowed to do when it comes to using customer data in specific geographies. Beyond that, it is also about finding elegant solutions to creative problems. In DemystData’s field and experience, this has included leveraging atypical data (like pet ownership) to help drive marketing efforts or putting in place the required infrastructure for real-time consumer consent when requested by local regulations.

Finally, Stefanie’s key takeaway was clear: don’t be afraid to innovate. Instead, find the right partners to guide and support you throughout this process. Many global financial institutions still assume that the potential reputational risk associated to improperly navigating local regulations far outweighs the benefits of adopting new technology. However, companies who refuse to innovate will no longer be able to survive in today’s environment. The need to conduct thorough due diligence and rely on trustworthy data stewards is thus all the more important. And the opportunity to unlock financial services is worth it.

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