Asian Firms More Prepared To Comply With Data-Privacy Regulations

Asian firms are better prepared than European peers to comply with data-privacy
regulations, according to new Economist Intelligence Unit study.

The collection and use of personal data for commercial purposes are on the rise, but
concerns over privacy and cyber-security breaches are causing concern among consumers,
companies and regulators alike.

The report, The transparent business barometer: Preparing for the end of easy data, written by the  EIU and sponsored by Ant Financial, assesses companies’ level of preparedness to face a more privacy-conscious world. It is largely based on a survey of 250 executives across China, the US, Western Europe and South-east Asia.

Nearly 100 per cent of respondents agree that data privacy is important to their organisation, with a majority (54 per cent) saying it will be much more so in three years’ time. One reason for this is the perceived importance of data privacy to good corporate governance, which is something that 88 per cent of executives across the surveyed regions and almost all Chinese executives (98 per cent) believe to be true.

Many firms are waking up to the fact that stricter laws in the mould of the EU’s General
Data Protection Regulation may be in the offing. In a barometer constructed for this study,
companies were asked to rank their preparedness to face various data-privacy regulations,
such as that which might restrict their ability to gather data directly from consumers, on a
one-to-ten scale. Overall, they are relatively well prepared, although they are less willing to
take different measures, such as changing business models to reduce reliance on consumer
data, in response to such regulations.

Compared with bullish Americans, executives in
Europe are the least prepared to face regulations and least likely to try new approaches in
response to them, while the sentiment in China and South-east Asia falls between those two extremes.

Smaller companies are also less ready to face regulations than their larger counterparts,
even as some large firms, including tech heavyweights like Apple and Google, are now
beginning to call for regulators to create greater clarity—a step that will hopefully lessen
uncertainty going forward.

Michael Gold, editor of the report, says: “Businesses need to be aware that playing fast and loose with consumer data can lead to major repercussions down the road. Smart, well-
co-ordinated regulations can make the business world more transparent and trustworthy amid a growing realisation that data is truly the ‘new oil’ in today’s economy.”

In a nutshell, the study finds:

  • Firms in China and South-east Asia are more confident than those in Europe to deal
    with potentially stricter rules around consumer-data gathering and use; the US leads
    both regions

•   Asian companies may be ahead of the ethics curve: companies in China and South-
east Asia are more likely to tie data-privacy practices to good corporate governance  than those in the West

•   This comes amid the increasing importance of data privacy to organisations today—
it will be even more important in future, according to EIU survey

  • Yet firms also generally believe people are willing to trade data privacy for improved
    services

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