Data Power Requires Data Responsibility

By Hubert Yoshida posted 12-20-2018 00:00


This year, December, marks the 70th anniversary since the adoption and proclamation of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this occasion, Hitachi President and CEO, Toshiaki Higashihara took the opportunity to tell everyone working for Hitachi Group of the importance of our business activities with respect to human rights.


This message comes at a very appropriate time in our public conscience. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 70 years old, it is very relevant today. The implementation of GDPR, the European privacy regulations speaks directly to article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights regarding the “interference of one’s privacy”. Other rights that are in the news today are article 14, “the right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries” and “the right for equal pay for equal work” in article 23 which is a key to gender equality. Article 5 which says that “no one shall be subject to inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment” is the essence of the #metoo movement.

While we have made progress with human rights. It is obvious that some things have not changed in the past 70 years. In fact, the explosion of new technologies and business models may be creating new challenges as companies are shifting from being data generating to data powered organizations. Big Data systems and analytics are becoming a center of gravity as business realize the power of data to increase business growth and better understand their customers and markets. This has been fueled by the advances in technologies to gather data, integrate data sources, search, and analyze data to derive business value. The most powerful companies in the world are those who understand how to use the power of data. Relative new comers like Amazon, Baidu, Facebook, and Google have achieved their prominence through the power of data. However, with great power comes great responsibilities.

Hitachi Vantara is in the business of unlocking the value of our customers data. We develop and deliver the technologies that empower our customer’s data strategies, and we are mindful of the responsibility that this requires. Our first tenant is that customers must own their data, not us. Our storage systems are designed to separate control data from user data so that we can maintain the systems using the control data without touching user data. We provide all the tools to store the data on the edge, in the core and in the cloud, and encrypt it, but the customer owns the encryption keys. Our content management platform comes with content intelligence tools to help customers monitor and enforce requirements for privacy. We go above and beyond the functional application requirements to ensure privacy. We have partnered with Anonos to pseudonymize data and derisk data to enable analytics, AI, and data sharing. Our video analytics provides pixilation of the entire body so there is no personally identifying information revealed and yet the video can still be used for insights and alerts without compromising privacy.

Higashihara refers us to the “the Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy” based on the United Nations United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights which was adopted in 2011. This policy declared our determination as a business to respect the human rights of various stakeholders. His message this year reminds us of the importance of having high ethics and conscious awareness of privacy and human rights when working on new technologies and businesses such as AI and Big Data.

December marks the end of 2018. This is a busy time with year end business activities, holiday festivities, and family and friends. Please take time to remember our responsibilities to ensure the protection of human rights.

Wishing you peace and happiness during this holiday season and throughout the new year.