GDPR: What if it was an Opportunity?

Captivea LLC, Sébastien RISS

The protection of personal data affects every single internet user worldwide. Nevertheless, there are many people who do not fully measure the risks to which their online activity exposes them to! Similarly, citizens - both managers and consumers - show little interest in the "General Data Protection Regulation" (GDPR).

Meanwhile, some businesses have already made the decision not to comply with European law, or to "wait and see!" What a mistake! In this note, we would like to demonstrate that GDPR is more of an opportunity than a threat.

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GDPR: An Opportunity for Citizenship

To prevent fictitious reporting, GDPR will capture the use of data that is collected by organization. With this regulation, any European citizen will, therefore, be able to assert his or her rights in respect of any business (whether or not that business is European) that collects data about him or her.

The challenge is substantial, especially for American and Asian corporate giants, who will be subject to the same rules as their most modest European competitors. The GDPR is also at the cutting edge in the way that it applies to the use of artificial intelligence.

In fact, it clearly prohibits the use of predictive analytics to determine a citizen's capabilities.  As such, any natural person shall have the right "not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her," such as the automatic rejection of an online credit application or online recruitment practices that do not feature any human involvement" (Article 71). This is good news for citizens, who will be free from this kind of automated processing, which is judged to be discriminatory.

GDPR: A Business Opportunity

 For managers, GDPR could be seen as restrictive, because its implementation requires a number of specific, strict steps to be followed, some of which are long and complex. However, on a personal level, it will be difficult for them not to perceive the benefits of this regulation as citizens and consumers.

Before extending the reasoning to their business as such, if your subcontractors or partners comply with European law, you will be able to rely on the fact that your data is properly managed.

Your confidence in your service providers will be strengthened, while your relationships will become more durable. Now spend a few moments putting yourself in your customers' shoes: they to will be delighted to be able to share their data with you with trust and confidence. In a context of general mistrust in relation to the way that our data is used, achieving compliance with the GDPR will enable you to reassure your customers that their rights are respected. This could be an effective method to improve your image and build their loyalty.

This will be even more true if your products and services use artificial intelligence. Playing the compliance card will be beneficial to you. In conclusion, while it is true that GDPR defines a relatively strict framework for collecting, processing and managing personal data, it primarily places data security  at the heart of businesses' concerns. More than a set of restrictions, it needs to be seen as a way of protecting the individual and a true opportunity for your business.

You will also be able to take advantage of this event to clean up and optimize your IT systems and raise strategic questions (for example, how long your records should be retained). These are good reasons that fully justify the investment that a compliance process demands.

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