California companies are struggling to prepare for the impending implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). To address this, new ways of workting are needed, says Tom Pendergast of the company MediaPRO.
Such is the extent of the challenge faced by businesses, one survey finds that 86 percent of U.S. companies describe CCPA compliance as a “work-in-progress.” Adding to that, MediaPRO’s 2019 “Eye on Privacy Report” found that half of U.S. employees have never even heard of the regulation.
Digital Journal: What is the idea behind the CCPA?
Tom Pendergast: At a glance, the big idea of the CCPA sounds simple: give individuals control over the use and sale of their personal information. The bill acknowledges that times are changing, and that it’s basically impossible to “apply for a job, raise a child, drive a car, or make an appointment” without sharing personal information.
And because technology plays such a big role in daily life, consumers are practically being held hostage by businesses: the self-appointed custodians of their data. In many cases, these businesses don’t always have the best interests of consumers in mind; for example, the bill cites the Cambridge Analytica scandal of March 2018 as a primary factor in motivating the public’s desire for privacy controls and transparency. So the big idea is to put control in the hands of the consumer or data subject.
DJ: What are the main requirements of the CCPA?
Pendergast: There are countless ways that the CCPA will impact a businesses’ policies and procedures, depending on how well it has already incorporated policies and practices around the handling of personal data. So at a micro-level, the requirements of the CCPA are too many to count and too diverse to accommodate readers from across different industries. However, there are five very clearly stated rights that the CCPA grants to Californian consumers which will guide compliance requirements. In other words, the CCPA’s requirements are to do whatever an organization needs to in order to grant consumers these five rights.
Those rights are, in brief: 1) consumers can know what data is collected about them; 2) consumers can know if their information is being sold, and to whom it’s being sold; 3) consumers can say “no” to sale of their information; 4) consumers can access their data (and amend/delete it, if desired); 5) consumers get equal service and price, even if they exercise their rights. The implications for how a company builds the capacity to respect those rights is pretty huge.
DJ: To what extent is the CCPA based on European GDPR?
Pendergast: I think it’s safe to say that the CCPA is inspired by the GDPR but it might be going too far to say it’s “based” based on the GDPR. Consumer rights granted by the CCPA are similar to the GDPR’s rights for EU citizens, but they aren’t copy-pasted from the GDPR’s text.
The CCPA differs in handful of significant ways. One notable way is that the CCPA doesn’t focus the “legal basis” for collecting and processing personal data, which is essential to the GDPR. In effect, the CCPA gives affected businesses more authority over why they process data, so long as they do so with consumer rights in mind. But zoom out a level, and I’d say that both the CCPA and the GDPR are motivated by a desire to shift the power dynamic around the control of personal data from corporations back to the individual.
DJ: What are the key challenges businesses face?
Pendergast: It will all depend on the businesses existing maturity around data protection. If they’ve already done all the work to get prepared for the GDPR, for example, then there will be relatively minor improvements or additions to both policy and technology. But if the business is just getting started on solid data protection and handling practices, the lift could be very heavy in terms of changes to internal data handling practices, business policies, etc. A recent report on GDPR showed that smaller businesses have gone out of business rather than taking on the costs of compliance, and I suspect similar things will happen with CCPA.
DJ: What should businesses be doing?
Pendergast: One could write whole books answering this question. It comes down to assessing what it will take to meet the requirements in terms of impact on technology, process, and people, and then building a systematic plan to get into compliance. For many businesses without the expertise to do that assessment, the first thing will be to hire an experienced privacy professional to help them make a game plan.
One element that businesses don’t consider frequently enough is the need to develop an educated population. Starting a privacy awareness program that informs employees about what constitutes personal information, how it should be handled and protected, and what they should do if they suspect there is a privacy incident is an important but often overlooked component of meeting regulatory guidelines.
DJ: Will the CCPA fully address consumer concerns over privacy?
Pendergast: The answer to this question is immensely complex because it ventures into the area of the human psyche, which is about as weirdly complicated a place as we could possibly investigate. First it’s important to consider whether consumers really want their privacy protected. This varies by individual and by what scandal is in the news cycle; regardless, people’s actions don’t seem to follow the assumption that people want privacy (the famous “privacy paradox.”)
For example, in the wake of Facebook’s various scandals and the “delete Facebook” campaign … Facebook’s user base is essentially unchanged (well, Facebook monthly deletes more fake accounts than there are consumers in most countries, but that’s another issue). Basically, people want the benefits that our modern technology provides while still wanting to remain “private.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to eat pizza and friend chicken and tacos and ice cream for every meal and stay at your ideal weight? Get out of here. Consumer concerns about privacy won’t be fixed by CCPA, in fact, most consumers probably won’t even notice it or take advantage of their rights. However, whether or not consumers realize it: they need those rights to protect them from abuse and collateral damage to our society, often without our knowledge.
The CCPA is 100 percent better than what we have now: nothing. The bill is an essential first step towards amending the Wild-West landscape of big data that exploits our personal info all the time and, as we’ve seen, complicates our domestic and international politics. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, and maybe CCPA will get the ball rolling.
DJ: Will there be a US wide roll out of CCPA type legislation?
Pendergast: It’s possible, but most people place the odds of federal privacy legislation getting enacted pretty low in the short term. In February, Congressional House and Senate hearings discussed the subject from various angles. Lawmakers are eager to avoid a “grab bag” of state laws percolating across the country, and such legislation is a mostly-sort-of-probably-bi-partisan issue. However, predicting whether legislation will make it to the president’s desk before the 2020 elections has about as much success as predicting the outcome of the election itself. My opinion is that we’ll be dealing with the multiplication of state laws mimicking the CCPA until after the next presidential election.
Using innovation and technology for climate change-related challenges￼
How will tech consumers respond to challenges created by climate change? Ericsson’s report reveals ten trends that show increased reliance on digital innovation.
Responding to the challenges caused by changes to our climate, people are increasingly turning to technology and innovation for solutions.
Ericsson’s recent report, 10 Hot Consumer Trends: Life in a Climate-Impacted Future, released on January 16, 2023, shows how consumers are impacted and how they’re responding.
The report covers ten emerging trends along with statistics, revealing how technology use is shifting because of climate change.
The Overall Picture
Despite societal changes expected to take place in the next decade, people will continue to go to school, earn incomes, take care of loved ones, and find time to fit in some fun. Increasingly, they will rely on connected digital devices to adapt to coming changes while trying to maintain normalcy in their daily lives.
Consulting with 15,145 early adopters of digital assistants, VR (virtual reality), and AR (augmented reality) technology across 30 cities worldwide, Ericsson uncovered these statistics.
- 59% believe technological innovation is necessary to solve coming challenges
- 63% worry about higher costs of living
- 54% feel global warming will directly impact their day-to-day lives
- 68% would plan their days based on reducing energy costs
- 45% would use personalized weather warning systems
- 72% believe AI will help plan commutes and work tasks to reduce carbon footprints
- 46% plan to capture clean rainwater with smart water catchers
- 65% see energy becoming a form of currency
- 73% envision using AR glasses to go on virtual trips
One: Cutting Costs
As prices for daily necessities rise, consumers will use digital services to cut costs. Personal electricity consumption monitors will help reduce household energy consumption. Digital recipe assistants will monitor food prices and suggest balanced, economical meals.
Two: Relying on the Internet
Demand for Internet reliance will grow to stay connected with family, friends, school, and work. Consumers will expect secure communications services. The Internet will become vital for accessing information during weather events.
Three: Optimizing Schedules
Energy availability – not time – will be considered to optimize activity schedules. Energy costs will be prioritized over time efficiency.
Four: Depending on AI
Using AI for increased safety will become commonplace, with people turning to AI for real-time advice in extreme weather. AI services will be used for green technology investing for financial security.
Five: Changing Work Routines
Working from home at least part-time will continue, with digital services used to schedule workdays. Flex schedules can distribute energy use across regions to avoid sharp peaks of electricity consumption.
Six: Using Smart Water Services
To prevent water scarcity and reduce costs, intelligent water catchers on roofs and balconies will capture clean rainwater. Built-in sensors at home will monitor water consumption.
Seven: Turning Energy into Currency
Consumers will switch to renewable energy sources, and power-saving technologies will grow in demand. Early adopters see opportunities to make money by generating their own electricity.
Eight: Shopping Digitally
Buying digital products will increase while buying physical goods will decrease. Hobbies, toys, games, and pastimes will go online. AI that questions unnecessary purchases will be used.
Nine: Travelling Virtually
VR will be used to travel without leaving home. Realistic nature experiences of hiking in a forest or rowing on a lake can be recreated in living rooms.
Ten: Protecting Against Cheaters
Some consumers will try to bypass environmental restrictions by hacking the system and tapping into neighbors’ reserves. People will need to secure their water and electricity supplies to protect themselves from being hacked.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, casts spell on Microsoft
OpenAI is the topic of conversation across multiple industries, and Microsoft is betting big on it.
The hottest startup in Silicon Valley right now is OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed developer of ChatGPT, a much-hyped chatbot that can write a poem, college essay or even a line of software code.
Tesla tycoon Elon Musk was an early investor in OpenAI and Microsoft is reported to be in talks to up an initial investment of $1 billion to $10 billion in a goal to challenge Google’s world-dominating search engine.
If agreed, the cash injection by the Windows-maker would value OpenAI at a whopping $29 billion, making it a rare tech-world success when major players such as Amazon, Meta and Twitter are cutting costs and laying off staff.
“Microsoft is clearly being aggressive on this front and not going to be left behind on what could be a potential game-changing AI investment,” said analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.
Before the release of ChatGPT, OpenAI had wowed tech geeks with Dall-E 2, a software that creates digital images with a simple instruction.
Microsoft, which makes no secret of its AI ambitions, has integrated Dall-E 2 into several of its applications and now, according to a report in Bloomberg, the tech giant wants to graft ChatGPT to its Bing search engine to take on Google.
Since ChatGPT was introduced in November, the prowess of this chatbot has aroused the curiosity and fascination of internet users.
It is capable of formulating detailed and human-like answers on a wide range of subjects in a few seconds, raising fears that it is vulnerable to misuse by school cheats or for disinformation.
The dizzying success is due in part to OpenAI’s clever marketing strategy in which it made its research accessible to non-experts, said AI specialist Robb Wilson, founder of OneReach.ai, a software company.
“Having this technology available to technologists was one thing. Offering it in a chat user interface and allowing non-developers to start playing with it ignited a conversation,” he said.
Founded in late 2015, OpenAI is led by Sam Altman, a 37-year-old entrepreneur and former president of startup incubator Y Combinator.
The company has counted on the financial support of prestigious contributors from the start, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, investor Peter Thiel and Musk.
The multi-billionaire served on OpenAI’s board until 2018, but left to focus on Tesla, the electric vehicle company.
The startup also relies on a team of computer scientists and researchers led by Ilya Sutskever, a former Google executive who specializes in machine learning.
OpenAI, which did not respond to AFP’s inquiries, had about 200 employees by 2021, according to a query made directly on ChatGPT.
For now, despite the excitement generated by ChatGPT, the company has yet to find a path to financial independence.
Founded as a nonprofit, the startup became a “capped for-profit” company in 2019 to attract more investors and this week co-founder Greg Brockman said that a paid version of ChatGPT was in the works.
The search for funding seems necessary for a company with exorbitant expenses.
In a Twitter exchange with Musk in early December, Altman acknowledged that each conversation on ChatGPT costs OpenAI several US cents.
According to estimates by Tom Goldstein, an associate professor in the University of Maryland’s computer science department, the company is shelling out $100,000 a day for its bot, or about $3 million a month.
Partnering with Microsoft, which provides the startup with its remote computing services, could cut costs, but “either way, it’s not cheap,” Goldstein said.
“Some say it’s wasteful to pour these kinds of resources… into a demo,” he added.
Three stories from Canada’s tech landscape
An event series for Black entrepreneurs, Indigenous innovation, and a Canadian-made, one-of-a-kind EV.
Ongoing reports of an overall slowdown — including layoffs — in Canada’s tech ecosystem have been happening for much of the latter half of 2022. Funding took a bit of a tumble, amid stock market slumps, inflation, and a looming recession.
That said, there are still plenty of entrepreneurs, tech leaders, and innovators across Canada making serious moves. Here are three such stories.
Celebrating Black founders and tech leaders
Black tech entrepreneurs in Alberta are getting the change to pitch their businesses to investors and connect with fellow founders, thanks to a new events series from Innovate Calgary.
The series, called Black Founders in Tech, started in November out of the University of Calgary’s business incubator, with seven founders making their pitches. Prior to their pitch, participants were matched with a mentor and coach to help with preparation.
As Innovate Calgary’s Jerome Morgan explained to CBC, “We listened to BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of colour] founders, and they said, ‘We want to be celebrated and not just be a corner of the innovation ecosystem.’”
“In [the] industry there aren’t that many colourful faces all in one room and it was pretty cool,” added pitch finalist Sean Hervo. “You could feel the love and energy in there. We were high-fiving and cheering each other on.”
Canada’s first Indigenous-owned bioenergy facility
NorSask Forest Products, a bioenergy plant owned by The Meadow Lake Tribal Council (comprising nine First Nations in northwestern Saskatchewan), is turning wood waste into heat and power.
After 50 years of the sawmill burning its wood waste — a practice that has largely been abandoned or banned in most of the country — the bioenergy centre works in a closed-loop system. As Tina Rasmussen, chief business officer for MLTC and a member of the Flying Dust First Nation explained to CBC, such a system allows for the use of 100% of the tree. Air pollution control devices help remove particulates and break down pollutants into ash.
The facility generates 8.3 megawatts of power, able to power approximately 5,000 homes.
Showcasing Canada’s EV and manufacturing potential at CES
The Consumer Electronics Show is one of the biggest tech events in the world, and a unique piece of Canadian tech was on showcase.
Project Arrow is a concept vehicle by The Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada. It’s made of materials from 50 Canadian parts suppliers, built to show the auto sector’s ability to manufacture EVs and to answer Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for zero-emissions by 2050. The Arrow is the first original, full-build, zero-emission concept vehicle.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
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