| Ricardo Tavares - TechPolis
Nov 13, 2017

A few months ago, I had a meeting with the CEO of an Asian-based company that has subscribers across pay-TV, mobile, fixed-line and fintech services.  Although the country doesn’t have any formal data privacy regulations yet, I was asked to provide my recommendations for their data privacy policies. I suggested creating an internal code of ethics for how the company manages data—a self-regulation to protect subscribers’ personal data. He nodded in agreement, but argued, “My competitors will not do that.”

When I recently described this same conversation to a group of 100 video service provider industry executives attending a special breakfast panel on “Video Disrupted” during CommunicAsia in Singapore,  I received a great deal of support. To my surprise, the audience agreed with me even when I added the notion that companies with ethical approaches of protecting subscribers' personal data could even come to demand appropriate regulations where none are in place.

Facilitated by John Tanner, Disruptive Asia’s Editor, the panel pressed all the privacy buttons video service providers are dealing with. When Tanner asked why the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are becoming the gold standard for data regulation worldwide, I pointed out the EU approach is “general,” while many other regulatory approaches around the world are sector-specific—one for banking, another for fixed-line and cable operators, yet another for Internet companies and so on. Furthermore, many countries are looking at creating their own regulations, and the comprehensive character and visibility of GDPR make the EU legislation the off-the-shelf guide to personal data protection legislation.

During the session, Matt Pollins from CMS and I agreed to disagree. While I argued that Apple’s emphasis on privacy-by-design is an effective way to value the voice of the customer, Pollins believes that Google has a better mapping system than Apple because it uses more personal data. However, I maintained that Apple plays for the long run, favoring customer respect.

Steve Christian from Verimatrix emphasized the importance of data security—the crucial first step in personal data protection—and the role of encryption of personal data as very important to accomplish it. Wing Lee, CEO at YTL, made the point data privacy is key for a well-run video services business to be able to gain customer confidence, improve quality and provide depth of services in alignment with subscribers.

I really got the audience’s attention when I revealed one of the findings in our survey of video service providers on their data privacy policies and practices. The EU has a comprehensive personal data regulation in GDPR, while the U.S. has multiple regulations and a certain regulatory turmoil at the moment. Ironically, our survey revealed that the more-regulated EU video service providers use more data from customers than their U.S. counterparts.  So that begs the question: does a clearly regulated environment allow for more data analytics than a more fragmented regulatory environment?  Our survey was too small to arrive at a definitive answer, but the question remains, and we will pursue more data to provide a response to it.

Overall, this was a fun panel with a great deal of audience engagement, and I am eager to keep the conversation going. To learn more about “Best Practices in Data Privacy for Video Service Providers,” get your copy of the white paper at www.verimatrix.com/dataprivacy.