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Embracing the Opportunity: Using the GDPR as a Catalyst for Responsible Innovation

For those of us in the privacy and data protection world, May 25 represented a standout milestone. It was the highly anticipated day on which the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect. Some people viewed it as the end of an era for businesses. Others viewed it as the start of renewed individual rights.

For me, May 25 represented an opportunity. An opportunity for Mastercard to continue to shape the conversation around responsible data use. An opportunity for us to consider the role of data in our day-to-day business. And, an opportunity to consider—and inform—what the future of the digital economy looks like.

At Mastercard, the way we handle data — with care and respect for the individual— has long been a vital part of our responsibility to our customers, cardholders and employees. Treating individuals and their data with respect, building ethical products incorporating privacy by design and being open about our practices are long established principles central to everything we do.

While the GDPR was more of an evolution than a revolution for me, it offered us the opportunity to reinforce our role as a trusted data steward. In doing so, we asked ourselves important questions: Are we as focused as we can be on user experience and control? Should any of our products or services be redesigned to ensure greater privacy protections? Do our employees understand the importance of privacy and data integrity at every level?

In our preparations for the GDPR, we realized that we needed additional safeguards for our data analytics. That resulted in a new idea, and, earlier this year, we co-founded a new company called Trūata with IBM. As an independent data trust, Trūata anonymizes data and conducts data analytics in full compliance with the GDPR.

As we think longer term, the GDPR offers the opportunity to reframe the conversation around responsibility. We have the opportunity to help shape the digital economy in a way that affords individuals with protections and controls while also enabling innovation. At Mastercard, we’re using new technologies such as artificial intelligence to make our network safer and to keep our cardholders more secure. And, we have the opportunity to continue to develop and leverage new technologies that protect individuals, with a keen understanding of our charge to steward our data in a responsible way.

But no company can do this alone. It will require partnerships, bringing together all players of our vibrant ecosystem.

Are you ready?