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The Social Conundrum - Privacy vs Convenience

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

The Social Conundrum - Privacy vs Convenience. Can we have both ends?

We have often heard the saying that knowledge is power. Knowledge comes from information and information from data. Mary Meehan writing for the Forbes magazine called it “an information con job”.

Users of social media, navigation, and eCommerce apps on their mobile devices unwittingly providing significant amounts of personal data, which invariably used against the users themselves. Some had described this as “digital feudalism” – the control of big technology platforms over data. Today, almost 75% of the value of Alphabet and Facebook comes from users’ data and the companies’ analytics of these data. Computers have an unending thirst for data.

The issue of protecting users’ data has become so critical that governments and regulators across the world have implemented legislations to ensure the security of personal data. While such legislations are admirable, they are also hampering the development of cross border digital commerce, innovations and services. Doubtless, data provides valuable behaviour insights that are so important in the development of superior products and services. With many companies operating in multiple geographic locations, the inability to integrate data across legal borders creates significant inefficiencies.

Privacy-preserving techniques have been or are being developed to safeguard the privacy of personal data. These include:

• Federated Learning

• Fully homomorphic encryption

• Trusted execution environments

• Zero-knowledge proofs

At Unified Intelligence, we employ such techniques to achieve robust insights while ensuring data and information privacy. These techniques allow the use of a broader range of behavioural attributes, and across a broader geographic region than would otherwise be possible. The result is behavioural insights that are more accurate and consistent.

Such approaches allow us to achieve our focus of contributing to an environment of excellence and enabling trust and confidence in our institutions for a better society. Beyond these, UI Systems aims to enhance the lives of the population on the marginal edges of society through making available better access to financial and healthcare services. A safer and more inclusive environment with an enhanced understanding of societal behaviours and trends are keys to achieving these aims.

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