At a time when Madison Avenue increasingly shifts from inferring information about consumers from research, surveys and meta data to tracking people’s actual identities and behaviors, a new “week” of events is slated to tackle the issues surrounding how, when, where and why industries can utilize people’s personal data. The aptly named “Personal Data Week” (Aug. 21-24 in New York City), comes as governments and regulatory bodies around the world are putting some teeth into new rules and laws designed to protect the rights of individuals and how their data is used in the process of marketing. In the following Q&A, the event’s founder, Imani Laners, explains what it is designed to achieve.
Media Daily News: What is “personal data,” and why do we need a week of industry events to discuss it?
Imani Laners: To date "personal data" has been defined rigidly by the governments of the European Union, Singapore, and the International Personal Data Trade Association. Personal Data is metadata that is contributed from living and non-living individuals. It can be identified and confirmed as transactional information with other individuals and institutions, regardless of the possession or primary control of the information.
Personal data, for me, has become the nucleus of all innovation. The analyzation of people’s transactions, online and offline, is one of the first steps in creating a future we can all embrace. Currently the ecosystem of personal data is fragmented across many industry sectors working in isolation of one another. Personal Data Week was created to dissolve those barriers and cultivate an environment that fosters conversation, ideas and collaboration with the intent of understanding our roles individually and collectively in moving this industry forward.
MDN: How does “personal data” differ from the kind of non-PII data that marketers use to identify and target consumers?
Laners: All PII -- personally identifiable information -- and non-PII is personal data, but personal data is broader than PII. Personal data is an input to all other data that can be traced to or derived from an individual.
MDN: What do you hope to achieve with Personal Data Week?
Laners: Personal data continues to be directly associated with privacy. Our goal is to change the conversation and differentiate personal data from the issues of privacy, security, and identity and focus on it as an issue of assets and value.
Since introducing the idea almost a year ago, we have received an overwhelming response nationally and internationally from C-suite executives, personal data influencers, government leaders, entrepreneurs, legal advisors and investors.
They are excited about the concept and are eager to share how they are adding value through the use of people’s transactional information.
MDN: What would you like people in the ad business -- including ad tech and consumer data platforms -- to understand about it?
Laners: First I would say, knowledge is power and representation is vital. The advertising industry is sometimes villainized for its usage of personal data. The reality is that many of the things we value today like navigation apps, automated music recommendations and ecommerce platforms that provide us with relevant information and are made stronger through ad tech and consumer data platforms.
Personal data is at the core of all market and other valuations.
MDN: How is the U.S. marketplace different from the way other markets -- the EU, for example -- think about it?
Laners: The EU has passed the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and Singapore has passed the PDPA (Personal Data Protection Act), which not only establish cyber compliance for all enterprise that interacts in their member states, but also established a new human right: The “right to erasure.” This new human right gives individuals legal agency over their data, no matter who or whom the controller of their data is. The legislative and litigative implications are pervasive, across every industry.
The USA has started to establish cyber compliance policies at the state level, most notably New York's Department of Financial Services Cyber Regulation.
The greatest difference between the EU and USA is the amount of detail on the nature of personal data and the entities that can have agency over it, which is not synonymous with control.
MDN: What will be the big new issue or theme people are speaking about at Personal Data Week 2018 that isn’t on the agenda or radar screen this year?
Laners: One of them will be the fact that in May of 2018, Europe's GDPR will make agency over personal data a human right. The legislative and case law implications are transformative to how we do business and transact value.