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MEF’s recent Consumer Trust Summit in San Francisco saw mobile privacy experts and regulators from the US and Europe gather to discuss the issues of privacy and security in mobile. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing a series of podcasts and in-depth analysis on the issues discussed. Here Simon Bates, Policy & Initiatives Advisor for MEF shares an overview of the day – plus interviews with some of the day’s many speakers, including Infinite Convergence, Mozilla, AVG and KPMG.

The avant-garde stylings of Mission Bay Center played host to MEF’s 6th Annual Global Consumer Trust Summit. Global insurance groups, bleeding edge accelerators and silicon chip manufacturers rubbed shoulders with regulators and tech industry luminaries to debate the white hot issues of privacy and security and their impact on the mobile ecosystem.

Here are five key themes to come from the event.

1) ‘It’s on us’

Building trust in managing customer data is imperative for all businesses. It’s up to industry to resolve trust-related issues before they dent confidence in mobile services. Anurag Lal, CEO of platinum sponsor Infinite Convergence, spoke passionately about the need for industry to lead the way rather than waiting for regulators to provide an answer. ‘We all leave digital breadcrumbs,’ he said. We need to know these will be well used, not misused.

2) Tension between law enforcement and data collectors will continue

Apple’s recent dealings with the FBI has focused attention on the delicate balance between state security and individual privacy. If law enforcement agencies are allowed access through a back-door, does that mean criminals might follow them through? ‘Weaken (data) security today and we’ll pay the price later,’ commented Justin Olsson of AVG.

3) Businesses must act as ‘stewards’ of data

Mobile data collectors must treat personal information with the same due care and attention as financial services companies treat their clients’ economic assets. While the buck for consumer protection stops with the regulator, businesses themselves should take a lead on determining the right policies and processes.

4) Innovation and privacy have a double-edged relationship.

Technology innovation and disruption breed new ideas, services, and economic value – but can sometimes leave privacy considerations behind, undermining trust and leading to real-world problems. Panelists agreed that baking in better data policies from the beginning is essential to avoid being forced to ‘back into’ security and privacy at great cost.

Chris Riley of Mozilla urged the industry to embrace three more key themes: education…transparency…and the need to focus on startups.

Delegates also heard from a couple of companies who have launched businesses around placing consumers at the heart of the data exchange. Giving users control over their data, and even making them economic actors in the market, could be a great way to build trust and drive commercial opportunities for the industry.

5) Trust issues will impact emerging technologies and sectors like IoT and mHealth.

mHealth solutions and the Internet of Things bring great value to consumers, but also potential security and privacy vulnerabilities. While mHealth business leaders recognize their responsibilities (‘the threat of jail time does tend to focus the mind!’ said one panelist) it’s less clear that the IoT has embraced best practice privacy at the design stage.

batesSimon Bates

Senior Advisor, Policy & Initaitives


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There was a real buzz around the KPMG-sponsored networking drinks that followed the event as delegates considered what they would take away with them. Yes, there was concern around the impact of new regulations – especially the EU General Data Protection Regulation – on commerce and innovation.

But there was considerable excitement too. Especially around the opportunities brought about by this disruption, and by forging ever closer relationships with customers based on best practice security and privacy.