Last week, Startup Guernsey hosted Guernsey's first Data Conference to explore how big data and its management is changing the world as well as what it means for the future of local businesses in Guernsey. The conference was sponsored by the States of Guernsey, PwC, JT and Bedell Cristin.
The Commission’s Director General, William Mason, was the key note speaker at the conference. Other speakers included experts from different business sectors who presented the opportunities and risks for local businesses as well as exploring where big data is already having an impact in the global market.
During his speech, Mr Mason challenged current mainstream thinking that all technological advances in this area are benign. Drawing upon his own experiences, as well as the views of others, Mr Mason’s principal conclusion is that big data can all too easily be misused to threaten key human rights.
Mr Mason acknowledges the considerable advantages offered by recent innovations around big data but notes that those same innovations have led to an increase in monitoring by both private and state sector actors; hence nobody should underestimate the importance of big data and the need for effective controls around how it it is used. While complimenting the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for making a reasonable start in this area, Mr Mason points out that technology is moving so fast and the commercial pressures that companies are experiencing to exploit big data are such that more will need to be done soon at an international level if freedom of speech and thought are to be safeguarded. He praised Guernsey’s decision to apply the GDPR to ensure the proper safeguarding of data in the Bailiwick.
The text for Mr Mason's speech can be found here.