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Data Privacy Day 2020 - Zscaler comments

January 2020 by Stan Lowe, Global Chief Information Security Officer chez Zscaler

Ahead of internationally recognised Data Privacy Day – Tuesday 28th January 2020 – Stan Lowe, Global Chief Information Security Officer, Zscaler has made the following comments:

"The topic of data privacy has become vastly more important in recent years. As with anything, if a spotlight is shone on it, either through regulatory activity or through the media, it gets a lot of attention. Recently people’s personal privacy and data are rightfully so, in that spotlight.

"People have begun to realise that their data and information are valuable commodities − hugely valuable, in fact. Organisations use and collect data to sell the people things they think we need, market numerous ideas to us, and build digital representations of us, so that they can predict what we will or will not do, how we will behave or what we will buy.

"Not only have we realised the value of our data, but we’ve started to ask what organisations are actually doing with it – something which I think is a much-needed move in the right direction. We have now begun to take control of our own data and privacy, holding companies accountable for their harvesting and targeting and use of it.

"Another challenge faced by corporations today is the pace at which governments develop and implement policy. It is no secret that up-and-coming companies innovate at a faster rate than governments can introduce regulations, such as GDPR. With laws and governmental bodies usually about five to six years behind the innovators, who are constantly innovating on ways to use the data that they harvest, the onus is on these companies to use the data they collect in a safe, fair and ethical way. Ultimately, our data is a tradeable commodity. And corporations have a lot of power when it comes to how they use the data they collect. So, it is important that, going forward into the next decade, they use this data responsibly and, ethically – as well as being as transparent as possible with us, their customers.

"Arguably the biggest challenge for our data privacy in the next decade will be 5G. As 5G continues to roll out globally, everything and everyone will become more connected than ever. IoT devices in the streets and in the home will all become connected with 5G. Our Alexa, our Google Home, our car and practically everything else will be constantly harvesting data and forwarding it to corporations for marketing purposes and to build your digital profile.

"We must become more aware that the advent of a connected, convenient 5G-enabled world brings the risk of creating an Orwellian society, run not by governments, but by corporations. As we use more technology, run by large corporations instead of the government, our personal data is utilised in ways we never imagined, to sell us, to sway us and to know us, better than we know ourselves. The more aware we are of this, the better.

"As we approach Data Privacy Day, its core meaning is more important than ever. Data is a hugely valuable commodity, and we are often giving our digital identity away without even realising. If we use Data Privacy Day to highlight the notion of digital identities, and how our online profiles are being created, refined and added to constantly, then we can learn how to keep themselves from being unnecessarily exposed – even in this incredibly connected world."

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