Privacy Enhancing Technologies Roundtable Discussion

Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) are changing the paradigm of how and where organizations can leverage data to unlock value. At its core, this category of technologies enables, enhances, and preserves the privacy of data throughout its lifecycle, securing the usage of data. Since data is the backbone of today’s digital economy, PETs have been gaining traction as a category for their business-enabling and privacy-preserving capabilities. They allow organizations to securely and privately collaborate and use data across organizational data silos, security boundaries, and jurisdictions.

To gain a better sense of the state of PETs, Paul Lekas, SVP for Global Public Policy and Government Affairs at SIIA, recently moderated a roundtable discussion with three leading experts in PETs: Dr. Ellison Anne Williams, CEO and Founder, Enveil; Vivienne Artz, Co-Chair for the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) Data Committee; and Prof. Jon Crowcroft, Fellow at The Royal Society (recent publisher of a seminal report on PETs).

Key takeaways:

  • PETs are here and now. The state of the technology has advanced considerably in recent years. PETs, such as homomorphic encryption, can perform complex, cross-jurisdictional analytics in seconds that previously would have taken weeks or months.
  • PETs are business and mission enabling. By protecting the confidentiality of data during analysis and dissemination, PETs allow both private and public organizations to expand data innovation in ways that advance societal interests – such as medical research and financial fraud detection.
  • Laws, regulations, and policy are driving the need for and adoption of PETs. Over 70% of countries globally have data protection regulations that limit the ability to share data and to conduct critical data analyses across borders. PETs can unlock the value of data while respecting the rules and regulations that govern data usage and sharing. PETs can also minimize the risk of breaching data protection rules.
  • Cloud computing and AI have also driven the need for PETs. As Big Data has expanded into cloud computing and AI, PETs are a necessary complement to enable utility without sacrificing privacy.
  • Regulations have not kept pace with technological development. PETs can protect personal information more effectively than traditional anonymization procedures, though privacy rules such as the GDPR do not account for these tech advances.
  • Governments around the world are focused on PETs. Among recent highlights, the White House issued the first ever U.S. national strategy, the U.S. and UK have advanced a PETs prize challenge, and the UN launched a PET Lab and issued guidance for unlocking value from government datasets.

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