I joined the Immuta team last Monday and, since then, have been asked several times:
“Why join Immuta?”
“After a successful career in academia, why go and work for a data management company?”
There are many reasons, but it boils down to this one: We now live in a profoundly data-driven economy and society. As a result, we need secure, agile, scalable, and user-friendly safeguards to properly frame algorithmic practices and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), applicable since 25 May 2018, is a step in the right direction. Although it has been heavily criticized for its lack of pragmatism and chilling effect upon innovation, the research that I have conducted as a Professor in Information Technology Law and Data Governance at the University of Southampton has convinced me that it is possible to adopt a highly constructive reading of the GDPR, which should enable rather than prevent innovation.
This is because the GDPR rightly pushes towards the adoption of protective technical and organisational measures as early as possible in the data collection and use lifecycle. In addition, by strengthening enforcement, the regulation will – over time – create a level playing field. However, if complying with the GDPR is both desirable and possible, it is also resource-intensive and often requires the revamping of internal processes.
Building structures for data governance thus becomes critical to the future of data use and innovation in the EU (as I have explained elsewhere). The Immuta platform is the most powerful tool I’ve come across for building such structures – and above all, for self-enforcing data policies over time.
Still, why join Immuta? While the research that I have been conducting was completely independent from the work done by the Immuta team, our paths rapidly converged. Immuta was implementing in practice what I was calling for in my research on anonymisation, pseudonymisation, and Big Data analytics practices.
The only way to really test the feasibility of a risk-based approach based on a panoply of methods or techniques – and thereby demonstrate the attractiveness of the EU data protection model – was to join forces and work together. The Immuta team is very much research driven. The company is committed to marrying entrepreneurial spirit with strong ethical standards, and has therefore decided to join and actively contribute to the initiatives emerging in Europe on responsible AI.
Last but not least, as I have learned from my work experiences in different countries (France, United States, Italy, United Kingdom), it is often through the melting of cultures and backgrounds that great ideas grow, flourish, and become transformative.