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The Data Age is Now

Wednesday 23 August 2017

The British Government recently announced companies will soon need to erase personal information if requested, under new ‘right to be forgotten online’ laws. The Data Protection Bill will make it simpler for people to control how companies use their personal details, including requesting that posts or pictures be deleted. Privacy campaigners largely welcomed the move.

But is this all too little, too late? And will the legislation have the intended effect?Hopefully this is not a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Many politicians are only just waking up to the fact we are living in the data age. The world’s biggest brands already possess a huge amount of data on us. And their ability to harness the power of this data through big data analytics is growing at an exponential rate. The surge in home IoT devices and AI based technology is only going to further deliver valuable real time data to brands of our daily habits, tastes and preferences. This can undoubtedly provide huge benefits to both individuals and business. But it’s clearly important that data is adequately regulated and individuals’ privacy is protected. We don’t want a Big Brother scenario in future where faceless governments or corporations abuse the data they possess to wield tremendous control and abuse power. But any regulation to govern how personal and private data is stored, used and deleted must be well thought through and not rushed. The regulations should have the intended result and not make things worse. These new laws will be introduced to Parliament in the autumn. As with all such legislation, the devil will be in the detail. Let’s hope the government strikes the right balance between protecting people’s privacy and enabling us to benefit from the data revolution.

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