Mr Bargmann, as a data protection expert does it make you flinch when I say the words “big data”? And if not, why not?
First of all, big data is a relatively vague term. Nowadays everyone who processes large volumes of data is generally accepted to be working with big data. But we were already doing a lot of this before the phrase was invented. It’s clear that processing large amounts of structured and unstructured data does not fit well with the principles of data protection law, such as the principles of purpose and data minimisation. But in many cases it’s not actually necessary to process personal data and characteristics because it’s possible to use aggregated or anonymised data or use data that is not linked to an individual, such as machine data.
Should our business partners and customers worry that their data is not secure with us or that we don’t handle it properly?
I think here at innogy we take data protection and security very seriously. Of course we want to get on board with new business models that have previously been dominated by US companies with fewer data protection concerns. But the trust of our customers is a key asset and could also be a competitive advantage if we handle it properly. From the number of customer queries and complaints we have received, it is clear that they are becoming more sensitive to this issue and want to know what is happening with their data.
It is a case of harmonising the interests of companies and individuals in a fair and sensible way
In future will the increasing number of big data projects mean there is more work to do and more questions to answer? What do you think?
Definitely. Digitalisation of the energy sector is still in its early stages, and the many new initiatives in the Group all revolve around data, and particularly personal data. Some major changes to the domestic and international legal framework are also in the pipeline for May 2018. These include the EU’s new Data Protection Directive and ePrivacy Directive. Data will become more valuable for businesses, but also for every individual. When it comes to data protection, it is a case of harmonising the interests of companies and individuals in a fair and sensible way.