The distinction between the digital and physical worlds has blurred to the point where there’s no beginning, middle, or end. Instead, there is just one endless continuum of processing our every move as we walk around with a smartphone in our pocket, its geo-location switched to ‘enabled.’
Although there are endless ways of connecting customers, brand owners, technologies, and data, from an employee’s perspective, it can still be very scary. For one thing, there are significant security risks associated with increased personal data collection.
The next generation of hacker—often an ‘insider’ lurking in the shadows right under the nose of their boss—won’t think twice about releasing health data or personal information about colleagues and customers for personal gain on the dark web. This is something that Bupa, Morrisons, and many other companies have recently discovered—to their cost.
So should HR turn up the dial on security by deploying ‘state of the art’ technologies, such as blockchain, to combat the havoc that could be wreaked by one rogue employee?
Advocates of blockchain are keen to emphasize that it can create trust in existing online infrastructure where personal data is being shared between two strangers.
The basis of blockchain is a direct, secure transfer of data between two parties without the need for third-party verification. And this is made possible by an encryption solution that ensures each exchange is unique and can’t be broken.
In simple terms, transactions on a blockchain can’t be deleted since this would effectively ‘break the chain’ and render it useless.
Although this may look attractive from the outside, it could cause all sorts of HR challenges where the employer must demonstrate transparency and accountability to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
For example, if a customer, client, or even employee wanted to have their personal data record rectified to make it accurate, then this wouldn’t be possible if this personal data was stored directly on a blockchain.
Even accepting that we’ve moved to a post-privacy era with social media, it’s worth remembering that privacy still matters to people as a way of shaping their lives—both at home and at work—and this is now a fundamental human right.
Ardi Kolah LL.M is Executive Fellow and Director, GDPR Transition Programme, Henley Business School (UK). For more information on Henley Business School's GDPR Transition Programme, click here.
For additional reading on GDPR, check out our GDPR resource center by clicking here. Alternatively, why not check out our latest podcast (below) featuring Ardi Kolah, which asks: Are you ready for GDPR?
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