Making sure your greatest asset does not become a liability

It’s critical you follow all data governance regulations​

Recap of previous two Insights articles

In an article this month, “Data is now more valuable than oil,” I focused on how data became the world’s most valuable asset. –In my most recent article, “Are today’s tech giants comparable to 19th-century monopolies” I made the case that 21st-century tech giants like Google and Facebook are not directly comparable to the late 19th-century oil extraction industry and other monopolies of that era. This is because size alone no longer defines unfair competitive advantage.



Protect yourself with comprehensive data governance policies

In this article, I want to emphasize the critical importance of following data governance policies at the federal, state, and international levels.

  • If you have business in Europe, be aware that recent EU regulations create fines, running as high as 4% of a company’s worldwide turnover, for misusing or failing to adequately protect personal information. –Tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook, face continuing legal challenges in Europe for violating the EU’s data governance and other laws.

While the U.S. doesn’t have comparable privacy regulations, you can still experience heavy fines. To protect your business, do the following—

  • Become familiar with the requirements and regulations concerning all aspects of your Big Data analytics operations. Each segment of your data, depending on its source, has its own permissions and governance requirements.
  • When you collect and store personal user data, whether you distribute it for profit or not, you must follow all legal and regulatory requirements. Not doing may adversely affect your business’s bottom line as well as its public reputation.
  • Use data only for the purpose you acquired it. If you don’t clarify its use, or inadvertently use it for another purpose, you can get in legal trouble.
  • Don’t assume that data you get from a third party has been cleared for use. So, for example, if you buy a list of names and email addresses for marketing purposes, the agency selling it to you may not have secured the right permissions to distribute it. Nonetheless, your company will be held responsible when you disseminate that information, potentially resulting in heavy fines and damaging lawsuits from those whose data you have unintentionally misused.
  • U.S. laws, though less protective of user privacy than in Europe, can be more challenging given the need to comply with the complicated patchwork of state laws.
  • U.S. regulations are stricter than those of most countries when it comes to deception. Companies having no intention to deceive may be slapped with fines anyway if it appears that is what they’re doing. To protect your company, maintain a detailed account of your data handling practices, including what you collect, how that data is used and to whom it is disclosed. This should encompass your privacy practices, marketing messaging and related issues.
  • Google got in trouble here in the U.S. for collecting private data from its cars capturing imagines and Wi-Fi data for its Street View service, even though they had no intention to use that information. Similarly, if you collect CCTV feed, post notifications informing people how you plan to use that data.

Big data legislation is growing not only in the U.S. and Europe but around the world. Fines for the misuse of personal data can be devastating. This is why it’s imperative that you know about all rules and regulations that affect you—from all levels of government with jurisdiction over your business.