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Senior media professionals launch forum for ethical use of data

Forum to provide common platform to data-owners and data-users to find ways for ensuring ethical use of data, and prevent its misuse by design, by default or by dereliction

Sandeep Goyal, former Chairman of Dentsu India and ex-Group CEO of Zee Telefilms, took over as President of the Forum for Ethical Use of Data (FEUD) as some senior industry people came together to create a platform which will engender the right atmosphere and the right mindset sensitized to the ethical use of data. 

Ambika Srivastava and Paulomi Dhawan, assumed the positions of Vice Presidents. Srivastava is former Chairman of Vivaki Exchange and Zenith OptiMedia; Dhawan is an active office bearer of the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and has spent over 30 years at big name organizations like Raymond and Rediffusion. Vivek Mohan, former Country Head for Alcatel Lucent India, will be an Executive Member. A graduate from Harvard Business School, Mohan currently spends most of his time in Silicon Valley. A full-time professional CEO will be named soon.

“The Forum for Ethical Use of Data (FEUD) has been formed in response to the current vitiated sentiment, both globally and in India, as a result of all the controversies like what is happening at Facebook today, and all the fears that are being voiced even on Aadhar”, said Goyal, who has worked closely for over a decade with all of India’s large telecom operators and has seen from up close the possible perils associated with a possible leak or misuse of the data. “The Forum will bring together all interest groups and get them to discuss, debate and devise a viable way forward in the handling of data so that it stays confidential, it stays protected and its keepers stay trusted. In India there is yet a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that data of all kinds is protected and secure so as not to compromise the privacy and confidentiality of customers. Far too many organizations have access to far too much data, but they are not investing enough to keep that data well protected. At the Forum we will provide help, knowledge, guidance and eventually certification to help organizations stay ethical with the use of data at their command.”

The Forum for Ethical Use of Data (FEUD) will soon be inviting banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telecom operators, airlines, hotels, FMCG companies, retail entities, media agencies, digital agencies and all others who are repositories of big data to join the Forum. Even government organizations will be invited to become members of FEUD.  

“We are plagued today by multiple issues in data protection and its ethical usage. For starters, most organizations are not even aware of who has access to, and who uses sensitive data within their own ecosystem. Compliance regulations and guidelines are very lax. No one even spends time cleaning up toxic data dumps. There are no investments to protect sensitive data appropriate to its value. At the Forum for Ethical Use of Data (FEUD), we will stimulate necessary awareness and action across organizations”, added Srivastava, the newly elected Vice President. 

“Out sourcing data and allowing uninhibited access to vendors and partners can create unprecedented situations like in the case of Facebook. At Forum for Ethical Use of Data (FEUD) we will bring about risk assessment and security awareness programs that will instill both understanding and trust within our member organizations, and their customers in turn”, is the view of Paulomi Dhawan, also elected Vice President. “Sometimes organizations do not realize that retaining customer data beyond what is required or longer than when it is required can itself create problems. Data management in India needs a lot of thinking.” 

The Forum will initially operate from Mumbai and Delhi. Efforts are already in progress to bring in a senior retired police officer as an adviser to the Forum. “In their own way, the music industry and the software industry which had massive issues of piracy achieved a lot of success through a combination of measures over the last two decades. Data is different but requires direct action if noticeable results are to follow”, concluded Goyal.

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