Seminar ‘The Value of Our Digital Identity’

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7 January, 2014

On December 21st, UPC/Liberty Global organized the seminar ‘The Value of our Digital Identity’ in collaboration with ECP and Considerati. The seminar provided a platform for substantial discussion on the balance between privacy and the importance of personal data for organizations in the digital domain.

The seminar was opened by the Vice-President Public Affairs & General Council at UPC, Yvonne Schers. Chair of the event was Chris van ‘t Hof. During the seminar, several experts in the field of privacy shed their views on the value of our digital identities and how to use this value in a responsible way.

The study “The Value of Our Digital Identity”, commissioned by Liberty Global and executed by the Boston Consultancy Group (BCG), was at the focus of the conversation. Bjoern Roeber, partner at BCG, presented some of the findings of the study. Motives for consumers to share their personal data with commercial businesses can differ. He gives the examples of sharing data in order to gain access to a service, receive discounts or to proof payment. The study shows that consumers worry about the data they share with commercial businesses, but not so much as to stop consuming digital products or services for which they have to share such data. However, he warns that those worries could gain the upper hand if digital trust is not maintained.

During the seminar, it became clear that we might have to re-evaluate our perception of digital identity; what is digital identity? The notion of digital identity is expanding; more and more elements can be included in determining someone’s digital identity. Not only personal information such as ones name and age, but also personal preferences can influence an individual’s digital identity. These personal preferences could for example include taste in food, shopping history or travel history. Establishing an individual’s digital identity can have major benefits for both businesses and consumers; businesses can improve their products and services, realize higher revenues and lower their costs through the insights they gain from digital identities. Consumers on the other hand can benefit from personalized and customized products and services, lower prices and time-saving.

However, it is also important for organisations to take into account the costs of for example security and management of the data in the long run, sais Nico van Eijk, professor information law. Van Eijk stresses the importance of digital trust. He illustrates this with the quote “Trust is like paper. Once it’s crumbled, it can’t be perfect”.

Harm Voogt, Managing Director at CV-OK illustrates how CV-OK – a company specializing in pre-employment and in-employment screenings – deals with digital trust in practice on a daily basis. He presents some of the challenges his business has faced over the years, such as an investigation by the Dutch DPA. He concludes that without digital trust, CV-OK’s business model couldn’t exist.

During the panel discussion topics such as the value of data, consumer interests, innovation and privacy were discussed.

Maarten Stamrood (Director Segment and Online Marketing at UPC) underlines the importance of privacy for UPC. According to Stamrood, UPC is committed to protecting the privacy of its clients, prevent network problems and guarantee the safety of personal data. Clients have to be able to trust upon the fact that UPC will protect them. To ensure this trust, UPC has clear policies regarding digital identity and holds transparency towards its clients in high regard. UPC is also active in educating individuals on privacy and hands them tools to make the choices that are most sensible for them.

Other speakers in the panel were Rachel Marbus (Privacy Officer at the Dutch Railways), Jacques Bus (Business Director P&I Lab), and Bert Aerts (Senior policy advisor IT and telecom at the Ministry of Economic Affairs). All their organizations have their own views on digital identity and privacy. Jacques Bus for example states that it doesn’t really matter how much data you collect, but how you use it. Context is incredibly important, he states.

Given the lively discussion, the event was a success. Managing one’s digital identity will become more important if more data is shared with businesses and governments. Through this event, Considerati  supported UPC’s efforts in creating a platform for industries and governments to discuss this topic, taking into account the importance of digital trust and thus consumer interests. For more information or a more detailed report of the contributions of the different speakers, please visit ECP (Dutch).

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Jonathan Toornstra
Jonathan Toornstra

Legal researcher

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