Technology connects us to digital services that empower us and that remove friction our daily lives. But do you know where your data resides and where it has been circulated? John Bensalhia talks data privacy with Ivana Bartoletti, head of Gemserv’s privacy and data protection practice
Data privacy continues to raise a number of challenges in today’s online climate. As head of Gemserv’s privacy and data protection practice, Ivana Bartoletti has plenty of experience in this field. Ivana’s team of legal and security professionals supports organisations with their global privacy programmes, governance and privacy by design.
“The operationalisation of privacy is a crucial element of my work, as companies digitalise using big data, blockchain and AI,” says Ivana. “I also work a lot on ePrivacy, digital advertising and adtech, and frequently speak on privacy and ethics at conferences around the world and in the UK media.”
Ivana also co-founded the Woman Leading in AI Network to encourage more women into the technology sector and to take more of a proactive role in making AI-related decisions.
“We started the network as we realised we wanted more women in tech, as well as more women being involved in decisions on AI purpose,” explains Ivana. “We’ve just launched our manifesto and we will continue to mobilise politically to encourage the government to introduce agile regulation of AI. If readers wish to become involved they will be welcomed, as we believe that implementation of our 10 proposals in the AI industry is critical.”
Today’s key data privacy challenges revolve around the proliferation of smartphones and data collection points (homes, cars), the use of big data, and use of algorithms, says Ivana.
“These challenges mean that we need innovative ways to safeguard privacy whilst ensuring people enjoy the benefits of technology. As we operationalise privacy through developing privacy by design, areas like differential privacy are certainly key. In the future data privacy must be a feature by design, not an optional action for users to choose. This fundamental difference requires a change of mindset at every level.”
Citizens continue to enjoy and cherish the benefits that new technologies have ushered in, including social media, connected homes and precise, personalised healthcare. The downside is that they have often been numbed into relinquishing control over their personal data, are unaware of where it resides and where else it is circulated.
“Tech giants have been allowed to collect huge amounts of data with little regulation, and even build a true persuasion architecture based on behavioural advertising and microtargeting,” explains Ivana. “2018 has been an incredible year – from Cambridge Analytica to the first victim of a driverless car. People are realising that checks and balances need to be in place to ensure appropriate use of the data available.”
Ivana says that two things are required in order to tackle these issues. First, we must rethink the concept of privacy to adjust it to the society we now live in.
“We need to establish what would be appropriate for a new social contract between us (data citizens) and the state or private sector dealing with our data,” she explains.
“Secondly, I believe that we need a new way to tackle privacy intrusion by integrating data protection, competition and consumer law. We are seeing this already, for example with competition authorities fining Facebook for abuse of market dominance.”
While it’s a challenge, for those seeking some kind of career in this profession, Ivana says that there’s never been a better period to get involved.
“It’s exciting – certainly the best time for people to get into this profession. The future will revolve around privacy by design, with more investment in differential privacy and homomorphic encryption, cryptographic undertakings and similar techniques. All of this is very important in the age of Blockchain and AI. An important consideration is how the definition of privacy will evolve, or whether it will remain the same, as new technologies