The Industry: Top 10 data stories 2018

This Year in the Data Industry

No-one could say 2018 was an easy year in the data industry.

On the tail of the Equifax data breach announced late in 2017, the Cambridge Analytica scandal of early this year has fundamentally changed the way Facebook, consumers and Chief Data Officers approach data flows. In Australia, the Royal Commission into Banking has shaken the industry and renewed attention on the social license of Banks. And of course, GDPR implementations have drained analytics resources and budgets across the globe.

Here are some of the stories that caught our attention throughout the year: 

1. The AI Buzz 

It’s been the ultimate buzzword of 2018 – AI.  The ethical considerations surrounding removing bias from these technologies has sparked worldwide debate. Review this year in AI to catch up on what has happened.

2. Cambridge Analytica takes Facebook data too far

Needless to say, this was by far the biggest story in data this year. So let us remind you of that fateful headline that revealed 50 million (later found to be 87M) Facebook profiles had been harvested by the firm Cambridge Analytica, who were wrongly given access to user profiles through the personality quiz app ‘Thisismydigitallife’. The harvested data was then used to create targeted messaging to influence voting in the 2016 US election. The matter was then taken to Congress, where Mark Zuckerberg was required to testify resulting in a hefty fine for Facebook. The significance of this exposing story can be seen in the #deletefacebook movement which reminded users that free services are not entirely free. This event marked a change in user awareness, as consumers were horrified to find out the true extent of what could be done with harvested data, and how micro-targeting could influence political campaigns.

3. GDPR rolls out

On 25 May 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, sending ripples across the digital world. Nearly every user of web-based services felt the impact in their email inbox with a stream of updated privacy policies and opt-in consent forms for the continued delivery of those services – in some cases services they didn’t even know they were receiving! Read the full article to understand what the great data crackdown of 2018 means for data governance.

4. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Following GDPR, in July 2018 California released their own Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) effective from 2020. This act redefined the definition of “personal data” in a way that greatly impacts businesses, and establishes a “right to be forgotten” much like GDPR. Read the full article to understand the implications and how businesses can embrace opportunities.

5. Singapore’s Healthcare Data Breach –  the one that affected their Prime Minister.

In July 2018, Singapore suffered its most serious data breach, compromising personal data of 1.5 million healthcare patients including that of its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The attack was found to be deliberate and targeted uncovering patient data from May 2015 – July 2018.

6. Consumer Data Right 

In August 2018, the proposal for the Consumer Data Right was released, to come into effect on 1 July 2019 for the banking industry, and will soon after be rolled out in other sectors such as energy and telecommunications. Read more about the opportunities and issues that this will bring for businesses.

7. Royal Commission into Open Banking

In the 2017-2018 budget the Treasurer, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, announced that the Government would introduce Open Banking in Australia as part of the Consumer Data Right. In July 2017, Mr. Scott Farrell was commissioned to conduct a review and report on recommendations for an appropriate model to move forward with. It was stated that the Consumer Data Right will be implemented according to four key principles: a consumer focus, to encourage competition, create opportunities and to be efficient and fair.

8. MyHealth Record

Also in July 2018, the Australian Government announced they would be launching a digital health record system called MyHealth Record, which would build into a patient’s medical summary to be accessible for health practitioners. The public then erupted into debate due to the opt-out process that would assure anyone who did not select to opt themselves out would have a record set up in a matter of a few months. The attitudes of hesitation that arose publicly reflected the apprehension of Australians to trust the government to protect their data, despite there being clear benefits to the future of their consumption of health services.

9. Google tracks you even when you tell it not to…

In August 2018, it was found that Google services on Andriod devices and iPhones store user location data even when they have selected a privacy setting meant to prevent Google from doing so. This was another headline that contributed to the wave of user awareness and suspicion surrounding data collection from big companies like Uber, Google and Facebook. The ‘Big data Backlash‘ of 2018 has seen consumers become more conservative and protective of their personal data, and companies updating their privacy policies to become more transparent.

10.  Encryption bill

Most recently, The Australian government has passed the Encryption bill, which gives law enforcement the power to ask technology companies to create a backdoor to their technologies. The law has attracted much backlash and controversy from the tech industry as it sacrifices security for the sake of catching the ‘bad guys’. Watch this space as things unfold.


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