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Google's €50m fine a wake up call for big data analytics

By Sara Barker
Wed 23 Jan 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

You only have to look as far as Google’s €50 million slap on the wrist from France to know that GDPR is here and the first wave has begun.

Now that there’s another high-profile case that demonstrates the consequences, companies must now focus on more than just consent to show that they are legally allowed to process analytics and AI, says security firm Anonos.

Data analytics are essential to company growth, competitive differentiation, and innovation. But there’s now a huge challenge.

“When analytics and AI cannot be described with specificity at the time of data collection - which is mostly the case with secondary processing - corporations can no longer rely on consent as they did before the GDPR. New technical and organisational safeguards are required under the GDPR to support analytics and AI processing,” says Anonos CEO Gary LaFever.

Now to remain legal under GDPR, organisations must have GDPR-compliant technical and organisational safeguards in place for secondary processing like iterative analytics and artificial intelligence (big data).

Those safeguards must do the following, according to Anonos:

1.    Satisfy a "balancing of interest" test that requires "functional separation" (the ability to separate the information value of data from the identity of data subjects) to reduce the negative impact on data subjects so that the data controller's legitimate interests are not overridden. Recent high-profile lawsuits against Oracle and Acxiom make it clear that simply claiming a "legitimate interest" in commercialising personal data is not enough;

2.    Ensure compliance with requirements that the secondary processing is compatible with the original purpose for which the data was collected; and

3.    Restrict access by default to the minimum data necessary for each purpose for which it is processed - known as Data Minimisation, a level of granular control not supported by traditional technologies like encryption.

“Technical and organisational safeguards satisfying these GDPR requirements were not previously required for lawful secondary processing using consent. As a result, most organisations do not have required new technology in place. What was ‘good enough’ prior to the GDPR is no longer legal.”

Advocacy groups that champion privacy are proactive – (Max Schrems' None Of Your Business (nyob) organisation in Austria and France's Quadrature du Net in the case of Google and UK-based Privacy International in the case of Oracle and Acxiom), LaFever notes.

Organisations need to assess and implement appropriate technical and organisational safeguards that enforce functional separation in a timely manner to ensure uninterrupted access to data, analytics and AI to fuel growth, competitive differentiation and innovation,” concludes LaFever.

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