Big Tech Data Collection under scrutiny after World Central Bank Group calls for more scrutiny

A paper released by the world’s largest umbrella organization of central banks, the BIS, calls for individuals and businesses to be given more control over the data collected about them by social media and other big tech companies and banks.

The boom in internet-enabled cell phones, apps and other high-tech gadgets over the last few decades has led to an explosion of personal data that companies are now collecting, processing and selling.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) paper released on Thursday said that while most countries already have some data use laws in place, most individuals are still unaware of what is at stake or the rights to theirs data they have.

Authorities should therefore introduce new data governance systems to “create a level playing field between data subjects and data controllers,” the paper says.

They should require companies to obtain clearer consent to data collection, better explain how it was used and make it easier to access for those from whom it was collected.

“When data is shared between data providers and data users, the data governance system should specify what data is requested to be shared, how long it is retained by data users, and who processes it,” the paper said.

The role of the BIS as a hub for the major central banks underscores the extent to which calls for stricter data rules are now spreading.

Current controls are very different. While the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in 2018, is widely considered to be the most comprehensive, it is still seen as problematic.

Other parts of the world are far less advanced. The United States, for example, where most big tech companies are based, still doesn’t have overarching consumer privacy laws, instead relying on a patchwork of state and industry-specific regulations.

According to the paper, data subjects also lose out because their information is often locked away in companies’ silos or platforms after using an app, website or service.

Companies, in turn, can then combine this data with other attributes, such as income and education, to derive insights and predictions, creating “derived data” that is often seen as more valuable.

Young and less affluent people also tend to be denied credit due to a lack of prior credit history, whereas if they had full access to their online data, it could be used instead.

“The young need time to accumulate tangible collateral, and the poor may never acquire enough collateral,” the newspaper said. “These low-margin, high-risk consumers are uneconomical to reach in the traditional system without access to digital data exchange.”

It added that any new governance system should meet the following five standards.

(i) Purpose limitation – Ensure that the purpose for which data is shared is clearly and specifically described.

(ii) Data Minimization – Only share as much data as is strictly necessary.

(iii) Retention limitation – ensure data is not shared longer than necessary.

(iv) Limitation of Use – ensuring data is only used for the purpose for which it was shared.

(v) Operational Security – ensuring data security.

© Thomson Reuters 2022 Big Tech Data Collection under scrutiny after World Central Bank Group calls for more scrutiny

Ryan Sederquist

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