I’m Valérie Peugeot and I work at Orange in Social Sciences Lab and I’m a digital studies researcher. I’m working among, other things, on privacy issues. Well that’s only one of my preoccupation, but that’s a very important one, and beside this, I’m also a member of the CNIL, which is the French data protection authority, where I’m in charge of health data.
• How would you define Transparency?
Transparency for me is one of the key principles at the heart of democracy, so it’s essential. There is no democracy if there is not a certain level of transparency and when I’m talking about democracy, I’m talking of course, of the political democracy, but also, the economical democracy. And we need economical democracy at this stage because one doesn’t go without the other. I mean, there is no strong democracy if you have an economy which is a big black box. So, transparency inside the economic world, how the money is generated, for instance, who makes the profit, where the money is stored, who taxes the money. All this can participate to an economic transparency. When we go back to the privacy issues, and data issues, the transparency means that the data subject, the user, the consumer, the client, has access to a certain amount of information about how his or her data is collected, manipulated, stored, used, sold or whatever.
• Do companies really care about data transparency?
I don’t think that transparency is at the heart of the preoccupations of companies because this is not their job, from scratch. I mean, they’re here to offer good services and make profits. So, we shouldn’t have a kind of, in French we say “angélique”, “angelic” approach of data protection. I mean, the companies won’t just like this because they think it’s nice for the customer, they won’t bring privacy into their processes. So, it’s a question of power of course. The power between the public regulator, the companies and citizens and how we build a new kind of governance, all together, with all those stakeholders around our data.
• What do you think could be the most significant challenges and developments in the field of personal data transparency online?
Well we have this huge shift which is coming ahead, which is the GDPR, the General Regulation on Data Protection. I think it’s really moving in the right direction by reinforcing existing rights of the data subject, of the user, also by providing new rights, such as the data portability, which is included in article 20. It has also its weakness, which might be the fact that it concentrates the responsibility on the shoulders of the consumer. So, it’s focusing too much on the consent, according to me, but apart from this weak angle of the GDPR, for the rest, there are many implements like the privacy by design, the fact that there will be much a group action possibility and many other things.
• Which are your current projects involving data privacy and transparency?
At the moment, at Orange we are involved in the project called “Mes Infos”, which means “my information”, my data, which is a project, which is carried by la FING, Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération. We’ve been a partner of that project for many years now and basically, the idea is to take a totally different approach around data protection by giving back the data to the user and so that the user is in control of his or her data and in control of the usage that’s made of his or her data. And the idea is a win-win approach, so that the data subject gets more privacy, but also gets new services because within his personal cloud he can mix data from different data collectors, from the bank, from the insurance, from the telecom operator, from the supermarket, from whatever. When you cross and mash those data then you can invent new services. And those new services are also an opportunity for the companies who accept to share them. Giving back the data to the data subjects is an opportunity for a whole ecosystem of new start-ups and companies. So that’s why I call it a win-win approach.
• What do you think of the data transparency lab?
I think the Data Transparency Lab is really useful, especially of course, the events which allow some networking, but more than anything, what is interesting are the grants that are given to some projects every year. And I’ve seen for 2016 some really, really stimulating and interesting projects, which received a grant. And I hope that next season will be as good as the first one, but we need more projects like this. And I think that the interesting thing is that the community around Data Transparency Lab can leverage these projects, give them more visibility, use them in their own dynamic. So hopefully, there will be more than just a research project that can turn into real concrete services. Privacy issues are often seen as a chicken and egg question, in the sense that, you know, we want our privacy, but we know that business will move towards privacy unless they make profit out of it. So sometimes we have to look at it in a different way, instead of enforcing privacy techniques, privacy tools. We should first look at how the economy works, how the digital economy works and start inventing new business models that can evade us from that obsession for data collection, so then we can move to a healthier economy where still we will collect a huge amount of data, but for what I call functional data. Data which help providing new services or help providing research.