It can be difficult for even the most sophisticated companies to bridge data and privacy together in a way that keeps consumers safe. Many of these businesses wonder how they can fulfill privacy expectations and simultaneously extract enough information for their apps and services.
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was designed to address how to keep consumers’ data safe without compromise. While technically intended for residents of California, CCPA’s reach is expected to extend well beyond the state as businesses strive to become compliant. This has already occurred for other California legislation, such as Proposition 65, which universally warns Americans when products contain dangerous chemicals. CCPA could be similarly far-reaching, as it will be easier and more efficient for businesses to treat all consumer data equally.
CCPA arrives after the debut of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. GDPR also requires businesses to protect and respect consumers’ privacy. Both are expected to inspire additional legislation throughout the world and in the United States, which could lead to a nationwide rollout in the not-too-distant future.
What this means for businesses is that they must begin to recognize the true value of data and, most of all, what it’s worth to consumers. This is true now with smartphones and smart home devices, but it will be especially pertinent as our homes, offices, and motor vehicles become increasingly connected. Vast amounts of data will be necessary to unlock the true potential of anything “smart.”
Just as consumers might resist sharing more data, the answer to protecting their information may not involve the retrieval of less data. A better solution would be to limit how and where that data is accessed, and by what. Edge processing, a local approach that brings processing straight to the device versus the cloud, may be the happy medium that meets the needs of both consumers and their favorite hardware and software companies.
Keep it local
Before facial recognition, Apple’s Touch ID offered mainstream consumers the first taste of biometrics. They accepted the feature because fingerprint scans were stored directly on the device, not in the cloud, creating peace of mind among those who used it to unlock their phones.
Now think about the way facial recognition software is currently handled. Relying on large databases to compare faces with existing images, facial recognition frequently connects to the cloud. That is unlikely to change in some circumstances since databases might be too large or updated too often to be stored locally.
Instead of relying on the cloud to run through a database to determine someone’s identity, local processing could be used to zero in on a person’s expressions, emotions, cadence, pose or gait. These and other attributes could be analyzed at the edge not for identification, but to reveal intent. Without question, this could be useful in a variety of public venues where security is paramount.
Imagine a smart city that uses AI to monitor pedestrians at crosswalks. If a man is leaning or motioning in a way that indicates he will dart out into traffic, the smart city could trigger a yellow light to slow oncoming cars, reducing the risk of an accident.
At no point in time would the AI need to obtain personally identifiable information to complete this action. The data would be anonymous and analyzed quickly at the local level without needing to invade one’s privacy. It would, in effect, be CCPA compliant by default.
Edge processing could be similarly applied to any area where speed, efficiency and privacy are of great concern. The technology could also be helpful in reducing the number of times that mobile devices must connect to the Internet. That might sound trivial, but it’s quite significant – cellular and Wi-Fi connections put a strain on battery life. This can be tested just by turning off all wireless connections for a day. You won’t believe how long the battery lasts! Few could survive 24 hours without the Internet, but with edge processing, many apps won’t need to be connected to provide the same outstanding service.
On the edge of a revolution
With privacy laws continuing to crop up, companies will strive to be compliant without hindering the way they do business. Edge processing is one way to achieve that, allowing for a wide variety of functions that were once limited to the cloud.