How Privacy-Enhancing Technologies Can Accelerate Your Data Strategy


As organizations look to safely and securely connect with their partners, executive decision makers are increasingly finding that their strategic discussions on data collaboration need to include privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs). PETs offer businesses the ability to accelerate safe data collaboration, build customer intelligence, and maximize the value of data without relinquishing control or compromising consumer privacy.

For decades, PETs have operated in the background to preserve governmental agencies’ and highly regulated industries’ sensitive information—such as satellite locations, bank statements, and medical images—enabling permissioned parties to safely access information without having to move or copy the data.

Today, with data in increasingly short supply due to privacy regulations and large technology companies restricting access, PETs are now on the radar of more companies seeking to build a stronger data foundation for true customer centricity. (Recent advances have landed PETs on Gartner’s list of top strategic technology trends for 2021.)

Privacy is not one-size-fits-all. All technologies have their merits, and none should be seen as better or worse than another. What’s unique about PETs is that companies want configurable controls to help them customize requirements and accelerate partnerships and results, and most PETs may be engineered to work better with one another to support these various business needs.

Six Questions to Ask Vendors

Vendors should be able to explain the technologies they use, and the benefits and trade-offs of each, in helping you maintain compliance with data privacy regulations while building consumer trust.

Here are six sets of questions you can bring to your vendors to better understand how their technologies support your current and future needs:

  1. Strength of privacy technology: Is your privacy technology rooted in mathematical definitions? Legacy approaches are not grounded in theory.
  2. Multiparty support: Can I enforce my own privacy standards and controls in a multiparty context? Or must I accept what everyone else is doing?
  3. Security: Can I leave my data within a secure perimeter? Or does collaborating with others require that data move outside my data infrastructure?
  4. Flexibility: Which analytics use cases are supported, and which are not?
  5. Speed: Does your technology slow down my analytics, queries, or processing? If so, is the slowdown linear (e.g., 10% slower) or exponential (e.g., 100 times slower)?
  6. Utility: Are the insights my team generates based on the available data accurate and actionable?

Maximize Data Privacy and Utility

Seventy percent of surveyed executives in the U.S. and U.K. said in a recent Winterberry Group report they “share first-party data for insights, activation, measurement or attribution,” or plan to. For these executives, PETs could power data collaborations that expand the frontier of what’s possible with first-party data in a way that maximizes privacy and utility.

Using traditional models of data collaboration, sensitive information would require the removal of personal identifiers to preserve privacy. Yet some of this information is necessary for organizations to create an accurate, bias-free understanding of audiences.

Rather than provisioning full data tables to specific data scientists and analysts with permission to see the data, it’s far faster, more useful, and, most importantly, more privacy-conscious and customer centric to maintain an arm’s length between the raw data and the data analyst using PETs.

If you were building an analytical model to predict whether someone could develop cancer, not knowing the ethnicities, family histories, ages, genders, income brackets, and living situations of the individuals used to build the model could create inaccuracies and widen systemic biases in preventive and clinical care. But by using PETs to safely incorporate more data into the analysis, you could collaborate with other trusted health care institutions to maintain result accuracy and fairness while preserving patient privacy.

Why PETs Matter for Your Business

Data regulation has played a large part in driving early adoption of PETs. Industry-specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for health care; the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Truth in Lending Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act for financial services; and the National Association for Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) for insurance accelerated the data-driven digital transformations of companies in these industries. More recently, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados (LGPD) have broadened interest in and adoption of PETs.

Secular trends that further promote PETs’ utility and ubiquity are the maturation of data infrastructure and the rise of an attractive cohort of young, wealthy consumers dubbed the “privacy actives.”

Today, facial recognition is a widely used feature on mobile devices, a once-futuristic innovation enabled by advances in data infrastructure and consumers’ acceptance of the value exchange of using this technology. This understanding is at the core of what matters most to privacy actives—transparency into data usage, and what they gain in return.

PETs and Customer Centricity

These forces of change enable a whole host of data collaborations across sectors that make data more valuable to internal teams as well as external partners, driving growth in ways once unimaginable:

  • If you’re a retailer with valuable data assets, you can set up a media network to unlock a new revenue stream and provide better intelligence to your suppliers.
  • If you’re a publisher or TV provider with a strong authenticated data set, you can provide more insightful analytics to your advertisers, which will encourage them to increase their media spend and enhance your viewership experience.
  • If you’re a consumer packaged goods company looking to build your own data asset, you can continually boost your customer intelligence and generate insights that may strengthen a variety of internal teams, from product development to supply-chain management.

Many companies have proclaimed customer centricity for years, but the pandemic era has proven just how high the digital- and privacy-first customer-centricity bar has risen—and the journey many companies must embark on to catch up. PETs narrow the gap, accelerate data strategies, build a true single view of the customer, and consistently deliver next-generation experiences that become your competitive advantage.

Learn more about how LiveRamp can help you own your data future and build market advantage through privacy-enhancing technologies.

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