GDPR - Good or Bad For Data Science?

Posted 2019-05-31 Posted by Deepak Mahtani

GDPR, four letters that have caused many sleepless nights in the build-up to its introduction in May 2018. Designed to ensure transparency in why companies collect user data, what they use it for, and ensuring the security of where it is stored.

As a data scientist, I thought "Gulp, how are my colleagues and I going to help people without data?”

Thankfully, this was a naive thought, and this is why.

Just as oil powered the machines of the twentieth century, data is the lifeblood powering the most useful and life-changing algorithms of the twenty-first century. From the accidental 'up-till-3am' Netflix binge from the recommendation engine, to building algorithms that detect cancer as early as possible. With the introduction of GDPR, we are told why data is being collected, this means that those inputting data are being shown exactly how their information is being used.

Personally, I find this reassuring, as the scrutiny upon the data ensures it is more accurate and as a byproduct, more effective.

In addition to this comes cleaner data, which means less time cleaning and more time using the data to build products and services to help clients/customers and the faster the outputs are put into production. This will, in turn, establish a feedback loop. More people will be comfortable providing their (clean) data because they have seen the improvements in their usage of products and services, and can ascertain trust in the system that their data is safe, and that the repercussions of not doing so outweigh any advantages from improper use.

Moreover, if at any time one wants all their data deleted from a companies records, one has the right to ask that and there are clear defined time-limits that this must be completed by. Again, this results in the improvement within the reliability of that data provided as consumers are more relaxed in being transparent and candid with what they provide, knowing they can delete it at any time. The process to do so is easy, and I believe that the further down the road we are with GDPR, the more anaesthetised we become to uploading usable data.

This is crucial to the swift development of technologies that can and will transform the world, particularly in healthcare, where time is often the most salient element.

Do you think GDPR has changed data practices for the better, and which areas do you think data can be the most life-changing? Get in touch or even submit your own blog content to deepak.mahtani@pivigo.com

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