It doesn’t matter where you live; data breaches have become a sad, but common, fact of life. And historically, there have been two opposing characters in this debate – consumers eager to protect their privacy stand on one side and businesses focused on innovation and revenue growth are on the other side.
Because the stakes are so high, there’s an even greater need to create and enact legislation that holds businesses accountable for protecting the data they collect and store. And no one, certainly not me, is debating this. But when you look at the types of international regulations and the soon-to-be-launched EU General Data Protection Regulation, the conversation inevitably skews toward categorizing Europe as the ‘winner’ and the U.S. as the ‘loser.’
But that is just too pejorative and takes us further away from the larger issue at hand. And that issue, in my opinion, is the need to protect and preserve tech innovation and intellectual property that will be critical in sustaining our global economy.
Over the last century, America has innovated first and benefitted from that first wave of innovation before other regions have been able to replicate the model at lower costs. We’ve seen social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram become real-time tools for customer service. As of late, Internet usage on mobile devices has even surpassed desktops. And now we’re set to ride into the future of tech innovation with wearables like the Apple iWatch, Jawbone UP and Google Nest.
Now other countries can access our businesses, universities, media and even government in a matter of minutes, and pilfer all of that intellectual capital at the earliest stages. So all of the investment we make in innovation – encouraging kids to study STEM, pumping out computer science and robotics PhDs – could be for nothing if we don’t get that first mover advantage.
This brings me back to the two opposing characters in this debate – consumers and businesses. Why not respect the emerging privacy legislation and find a way to innovate the very technologies that automate the protection of said rights? That way everyone wins, without sacrificing tech innovation and a prosperous economy.