Digital Identity: The future is today

“A crisis is time of great opportunities”: Now is time for this statement to become a reality. We are witnessing the major technological revolution of our history. The world has...

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Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Telefónica Public Policy & Telefónica España Regulatory teams

“A crisis is time of great opportunities”: Now is time for this statement to become a reality. We are witnessing the major technological revolution of our history. The world has changed dramatically and the traditional borders are blurring. The pace of technological innovation has increased rapidly and, as history shows, every technological advance is accompanied by a change in the spirit of the time.

Today, citizens, public institutions and companies are immersed in a new technological environment that is radically changing our way of communicating, working, providing services or developing new businesses. In this context, data is said to be the “new Gold” or “the new raw material of the 21st century”. As a matter of fact, data is a core and challenging issue for all stakeholders across the world.

On the one hand, a large majority of consumers are concerned about the privacy protection of their personal data and at the same time they are willing to grasp all opportunities offered by the digital environment.

On the other hand, the US and the EU jointly accounted for 2/3 of all global online activity and therefore a legal convergence is necessary. We have good news! : Cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic has been very intensive and it is even more now. It is true that the traditions on data protection law are different but the principles are shared.

The US presented in February 2012 the “Consumers privacy Bill of Rights”: a new approach to consumer protection that establishes a set of rules recognizing the safeguard of data that has been collected. The protection of privacy is above all a democratic form of government based in law.

In the European Union privacy and the protection of personal information are fundamental rights. And it is important to note that the principles of data protection have not changed over time markedly because they are a part of its constitutional framework and a strong policy priority for the European Union and its 27 Member States. Indeed, these days a new regulation on EU Data protection is under debate among European institutions and all stakeholders.

Additionally, companies expect that the data protection rules will provide a level playing field for companies for the sake of the development of innovation, competitiveness, new businesses, economic growth and job creation.

The Value of our Digital Identity report, recently published by Boston Consulting Group, based on a new empirical consumer research, offers a new perspective. The most important takeaway from this research is that it quantifies the current and potential economic value of digital identity: “The report shows that the value created through digital identity can indeed be massive: €1 trillion in Europe by 2020, or roughly 8 percent of the combined GDP of the EU-27. For European businesses and governments, the use of personal data will deliver an annual benefit of €330 billion by 2020—bringing growth to an otherwise stagnant economy. For individuals, the value will be more than twice as large: €670 billion. Much of that will be due to online services such as Facebook and Google that can be offered free of charge—thanks to business models that monetize personal data—yet are highly valued by consumers”[1]

Ultimately, citizens’ positive attitude sharing personal data is directly connected to proper privacy protection and the benefits they obtain. But realizing the full potential of our digital identity and to ensure that the flow of personal information continues, policy makers are asked to provide a stable, consistent and flexible framework balancing citizens’ fundamental rights and a level playing field for companies promoting innovation and competitiveness. Companies and organizations at the same time need to embrace responsibility, transparency, and user control.

As the aforementioned report shows personal data could unleash an impressive array of economic opportunities for all.  “A crisis is time of great opportunities”: here you have a very relevant one!

[1] Sinopsis of “The Value of Digital Identity” report.


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