Keeping an Eye on Data Ethics

Is your data truly safe and used appropriately?

‘You are being watched.’

While this ominous sentence might seem unsettling for the average person, we often carry out our daily lives being observed without us even knowing. From strangers sharing your morning commute to acquaintances working in the same office building as you, the pervasiveness of latent voyeurism today has never been higher. This behavior has been compounded by social media as more people lower their inhibitions to share juicy personal bits about themselves online.

This train of thought leads me to my main subject about how our data is being tracked in the virtual space, where things are grey, murky and not always what they seem:

  • Who is watching me online?
  • What are they watching out for?
  • Why do they want to watch me?
  • How are they using my data?
  • How are they watching me?

Although all of this may sound insidious, we cannot deny the benefits of user personalisation that can only be achieved through collecting data about the user’s online experience. Being able to better understand individual users through the means of implicit and explicit data collection has yielded positive developments in today’s technology-driven society.

For instance, virtual event platform providers have already been using user data to understand an attendee’s main interests based on search trends alone. Furthermore, with progress towards hybrid being the new norm for event formats, technology providers would still have a long way to go in terms of understanding and perfecting the digital touchpoints of an attendee’s experience.

That being said, the idea of collective user data opens up a pandora’s box of issues as well. These fears extend beyond the mishandling of potentially sensitive information by internal employees to the extent of malicious hackers who could put you in their crosshairs as a ransom target based on their syndicate’s ulterior motive. It is thus crucial that people learn the true value of their data and understand their data rights.

Though, that seems to be the contrary.

Ignorance is Bliss…

According to Cisco’s 2019 Consumer Privacy Survey, only 32% of over 2,600 respondents were ‘privacy actives’, a term that they coined to describe individuals who care and have already taken voluntary action to ensure that their data is ethically used. And with 2020’s edition of the same survey showing a decrease to 29%, we can assume that the majority of the general public are indifferent when it comes to enforcing their data privacy rights.

The cause of said indifference can mainly be stemmed from the ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ argument:

If I’m not doing anything illegal, I won’t have anything to hide, so why bother going through so much additional trouble?

This perspective, while relatable to many, has a fundamentally flawed pathology.

Data, unlike currencies, options or even any kind of traded commodity, has ‘no’ apparent value. From a corporation’s perspective, data points could be crucial in understanding the next strategic move to increase sales, enhance their products and whatnot. However, from a consumer’s standpoint, data is essentially a byproduct that’s generated from their main focus of being on any website.

Be it social media, e-commerce or news outlets, the user would perceive an equivalent or even a favorable exchange with no immediate risks in handing over their data (less the occasional email spam that one may have accidentally opted in for). In turn, they get access to resources and products on the website, many of which may be exclusive to the few corporate entities that offer them.

The lack of immediate risk, alongside the overshadowed and unrewarding nature of data privacy results in the privacy paradox, a phenomenon that describes this very behavior of knowing the dangers yet having an indifferent stance on preventing them from occurring.

Nevertheless, prevention is better than cure. With today’s information being transmitted in mere seconds over the web, a cure may not be the most time-sensitive solution as compared to anticipating potential exploits in your systems.

… but Knowledge is Power.

So, how should one protect themselves and their data from unrelated usages? While there are specific and targeted steps for different situations, I choose to shine a little light over a basic principle of data privacy — being in the know.

Educating yourself is the first step in the right direction. It is your data & your responsibility, and by knowing the potential threats and their associated risks, one can learn to question their choices and minimise their chances of compromising their data.

More importantly, this mindset extends beyond end-consumers. B2B tech solutions are more prominent than ever in the current business events climate, and it is here that the data-conscious attitude plays a key role in ensuring the safety of you and your client’s data. Making the right corporate decisions would thus involve providers who:

  • Practice transparency on how they use their customer data
  • Reinforce themselves with industry-standard practices on data storage and handling procedures (e.g. General Data Protection Regulation)
  • Empower their users to make data-conscious decisions

For instance, Jublia’s tech team had recently pushed out a recent improvement for Match 360°, our AI-powered engagement hub, that enabled attendees to completely delete their event accounts if they were done with the event or had chosen not to participate after registration. In turn, this would also erase any of their particulars and information on our backend as well.

Our objective is to empower users with complete control over their profiles, signifying a huge leap in terms of data ethics and respect that we have for our user’s data. Coupled with our strict stand on data usage within their original environments, our client’s attendees can rest assured that their data is in good hands.

Heavy Consequences, Light Focus

Ethical usage of data may not be a hotly-contested topic within the events sphere now, but it may incrementally become a deciding factor for clients in future as the events industry undergoes rapid digitisation where decisions are made by and for data.

Ultimately, Jublia doesn’t own the data of our virtual event platform users. The users do as well as the organisers who have collected the data. Jublia operates a fully silo-ed data processor ensuring the highest security standards and privacy of data.

Have any strong opinions about data ethics within the events scene? Want to learn more about how we securely deliver our products? Let us know at info@jublia.com or reach out to your contacts at Jublia!

Marketing Executive at Jublia. Currently exploring hybrid possibilities and its untold opportunities in a business events environment.