October 15, 2014

A new study by Intel and Harris Poll found that inherent distrust is inhibiting discovery and innovation. The survey of device owners revealed widespread misunderstanding and inherent distrust in data usage but “a willingness to share data if it will aid areas such as healthcare and education.”

In short, device owners are more than willing to aid “legitimate” research and researchers but are highly suspicious of corporate and government uses of their personal data. Intel believes that this distrust stymies innovation on both the public and private fronts.

Intel, along with a handful of other companies are now calling on the industry to “be more accountable, transparent and provide better security in product development, privacy practices and policies.”

Malcolm Harkins, vice president and chief security and privacy officer for Intel, said in his keynote during a recent Intel event and upon release of the study that “the potential to unlock revolutionary discoveries is at stake,” and called on the industry to be more transparent and accountable when collecting and using consumer data.

The study shows that many don’t fully grasp how their device data is used. While 84 percent of respondents believe some device data is being “collected and sold to third parties,” nearly two-thirds admit that they “have no idea who has access to data from their devices and how it is used.” Half of Americans don’t know how to define “anonymized” data, showing a lack of understanding of data protection.

Yet, there is a willingness to share some–but not all–data, particlarly data they individuals find can be of use. For example, 57 percent of device owners would share health data in an effort to aid medical research “as long as sensitive personal information was excluded,” and of device owners who are parents, 60 percent are willing to share children’s anonymized data to improve education.

Millenials are more likely to share data than older users, and show a greater concern with keeping text messages (39 percent) and photos (31 percent) private over health data (28 percent).

Personal data privacy is indeed the number one concern in this and other countries. The companies and governments who practice transparency and accountability and seek voluntary releases for personal data will be the organizations that win in the end.

I’m thrilled to see corporations taking this path. Here’s hoping more companies hear and respond willingly to this call to action. Just keep in mind that part of that action must include public education, or you may find your efforts continually misunderstood.

For more:
– see Intel’s press release

Related Articles:
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A case for public access to redacted social science data
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Public policy for “Privacy, Anonymity and Big Data” requires combined technical and legal solutions


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