Identity Resolution Supports a New Era of Consumer On-Line Data Privacy

Identity Resolution, Record Management, Risk Management

Identity Resolution for Data Privacy

The GDPR Is Having Profound Effects on On-Line Marketing

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. It has had and is having major effects on on-line marketing worldwide, as it covers all data of European citizens regardless of where the company collecting and using it is located.

The GDPR includes sweeping new regulations that govern the manner in which personal data is collected, used, and protected. As one example, user consent to collection and use of data must be explicitly given and be unambiguous. Consent is always opt-in. No longer can consent be simply inferred when the user is not responsive.

Companies Have to Be More Careful about the Data They Collect On-Line

On-line companies have gotten used to having complete freedom in collecting data on their customers. The GDPR changes this.

Now a company must be very careful in how it handles what is called first-party data, which refers to what a company collects itself by whatever channel:

  • Activity on a website
  • Social media activity
  • Mobile app usage
  • Customer surveys
  • etc.

Gaining GDPR-compliant consent from a customer is relatively easy to gain in the case of first-party data. Companies can ask explicitly whenever a customer interacts with a company by whatever means.

What is trickier is that a company must also meet GDPR standards of accuracy and completeness for the customer data itself. With first-party data coming in from many different channels regarding an individual, a company needs to group this information into a single record containing information about a single individual. This would be an exceedingly onerous burden on a company if humans had to perform this task by themselves. Luckily there’s a Machine Learning-based technology that can help: Identity Resolution.

How Identity Resolution Helps Meet GDPR Regulations

Identity Resolution aids in the consolidation of all the data collected regarding a customer. It ensures that nothing has been missed nor has anything been attached mistakenly to someone else’s record.

This has been called the Customer Stitching problem. It involves accurate and effective matching of such customer information as:

  • Names (Raymond Chandler vs. R. Chandler vs Raymond S. Chandler)
  • Addresses (145 Eighth Street, Elgin, Illinois vs. 145 8th Street, Elgin Ill.)

Given that users are frequently entering data on different platforms, there will be many cases where an item such as an email address will differ completely, e.g., as when at one interaction someone enters a personal email address and at another their corporate email address.

Identity Resolution matches probabilistically in this situation: it needs to match relatively small differences between the fields (as in the name and address examples above) and weight them differently from where there is also a complete mismatch in a field (our email example). Identity Resolution is able to decide that small field differences in some situations outweigh a complete mismatch in another field and that therefore the match is good.

Identity Resolution Helps Identify Whose Data Has Been Breached

In addition, a company is obligated under GDPR to notify customers when their data has been breached, including the approximate number of customers affected and the nature of the fields breached.  With Identity Resolution, companies can be sure of who precisely the customers are who have been affected. There won’t be two separate records with partial data about the same person. Conversely, data from one person won’t be attached to another’s record, so the company will be able to give customers an accurate picture of the data that’s been compromised that pertains to them.

In sum, the efforts to comply with GDPR are still ongoing, and there is a great deal of debate about how companies will create marketing strategies that will work well in a multi-platform world and also be compliant with the new emphasis on data protection. In any event, though, Identity Resolution is a strong supporting technology for ensuring that the requirements of GDPR are met.