Your Supermarket knows more about you than your Doctor

How do we decide when sharing information benefits us, or whether it is an infringement of our personal privacy? This is a big problem, when it’s obvious that we benefit or that we see some tangible reward for sharing data then often we’re pretty happy to share it, when it’s not obvious what the benefit is then typically we’re against it.

Never before have we created or had access to so much information and sharing of data is a topic that fascinates me. I’m fortunate to meet a lot of people and companies through the course of my professional and personal life and I find that attitudes to sharing data and the legislation in place to enable it or deny it range across a massive spectrum.

In our personal lives we are being monitored from many different sources, our phones have the ability to create and share information from the apps that we use to the things that we buy, to our current location, they are also communicating with shops, across airports and in London a few years back even the bins that we walk past.

I’m sure many of you will have read about how Target were able to predict the pregnancy of one of their teenage customers and send offers on maternal purchases to her family home. The most interesting part of this story for me wasn’t that they were able to predict this, albeit a clever feat in data mining, what stood out for me was their strategy to continue this process but to mask the data so that it was, well less creepy, send vouchers for baby products but insert adverts for Lawnmowers or other random products. Still achieving the objective of capturing the pregnancy market but without kind of shouting out ‘Hey we know you’re pregnant, buy our stuff!’

The problem is that who we’re prepared to share data with, and what we’re prepared to share is just not black and white. Maybe we worry about how our Patient Records could be used, will our Healthcare insurers get access, will this affect our payments? but if our patient records are digital then our treatment can be faster, more targeted and potentially life-saving. I met with a CIO at a UK hospital recently and he said to me, do you know why it takes so long to get you from A and E to X-Ray to a Ward for admission? I didn’t, he said it’s because someone has to move your Paper based record around the hospital to the different departments before we can move you! It’s good that progress is now being made in this area, many hospitals are now moving to Electronic Patient Data Records which should accelerate the process and provide better patient treatments and care.

Data legislation in order to protect our privacy and access to information that we share, is also woefully inadequate, probably because the legislators simply can’t keep up with all of the ways that information can be gathered and used. There are signs that people are recognising this and are now taking personal action, according to this article in the Washington Post ‘Nearly one in two Internet users say privacy and security concerns have now stopped them from doing basic things online’

How do we continue when so much could be achieved by the sharing of information? the linking of systems, patient records tracked from entry to exit have the possibility to deliver so much, but progress is often slow due to our own data privacy concerns or often outdated legislation, yet we’ll tell a supermarket absolutely everything about us for a free gift and no medical benefits whatsoever.

At NetApp we’re lucky to have Sheila FitzPatrick who is our Worldwide Legal Data Governance & Data Privacy Counsel, she speaks at events all over the world on this topic and what it means to businesses. With the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming, it’s more important than ever before to make sure you know exactly what the impact of this will be to you. It affects all businesses and if you’re not already on top of this then you need to be! The fine for not being compliant or breaching the regulations can be up to 4% of your worldwide annual revenue.

The portfolio of solutions within our Data Fabric also provide many of the tools that companies will need to support this, from the fundamental building blocks such as All Flash Arrays and Object Storage, to our ability to enable data to flow seamlessly and securely across Private and Public Clouds. Maybe you need to take advantage of the vast compute resources from one of the Hyperscale Cloud Providers but can’t put your data into their Cloud, with NetApp Private Storage (NPS) you can have your data in a known, secure location next to the Cloud not in it, bring the compute to your data rather than the other way round. All of these capabilities can be managed and controlled through an open set of API’s that our Partners are integrating with.

Our Data Fabric is the platform to support your data management challenges, including those related to GDPR.

If you’ve not spoken to us for a while then I’m pretty sure you’ll be surprised as to how far we’ve progressed in the couple of years that we’ve been building out our portfolio in support of this strategy.

But back to what we will and won’t share here’s something to think about, maybe you earned some reward points from your supermarket today, but you didn’t know you might have type 1 diabetes in the future.

One comment

  1. When technology meets the law – GDPR no doubt speeding up every sales cycle in 2017.

    Enjoyed this one Matt – not a single mention of NVMe or MLC SSD.

    Happy New Year – and send my discount code to the email address below 🙂

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