Data Summit Connect 2020 Keynote Explores Data Collection and Privacy in the Age of COVID-19

Data Summit Connect opened up on June 9 with a keynote from Lee Rainie, director, internet and technology research, Pew Research Center and Author of the book "Networked: The New Social Operating System," who discussed how the current pandemic is affecting data collection and privacy.

To watch the video of Lee Rainie's presentation at Data Summit Connect 2020, go here.

“People are of two minds when they think about data: there are sides that are concerned about data collection but there’s also the side that is grateful to have a lot of data,” Rainie said.

The situational context determines whether or not people are open to what data is being collected, Rainie explained.

According to a survey conducted April 7-12 by the Pew Research Center, more Americans think tracking through cell phones won’t make a difference in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Americans were also divided on whether it’s acceptable for the government to track people who have tested positive for COVID-19 through their cell phone.

“We’re gathering this data in context of lots of privacy work we’ve done through the years,” Rainie said. “This distrust of data collectors has become more pronounced for a variety of reasons.”

By and large people don’t feel like they have control over the data collected about them by companies and the government, he said.

People are concerned about how the data is being collected and there’s a lack of understanding about how the data is being used after being collected.

Roughly half the public thinks major tech companies should be regulated more than they are now, according to Rainie.

“People just think the companies have a lot of power and they don’t think they are in good shape to regulate themselves,” Rainie said.

Americans are more accepting of using personal data to help improve schools or assess potential terrorist threats, but are more wary of some other data uses.

However, there are some technology experts that believe that the collection of data will be beneficiary. Hispanic adults, college graduates, and adults under 50 are especially likely to say the internet has been essential during the COVID-19 lockdown, accoriding to Rainie.

Information sharing over the internet will be effortlessly interwoven into daily life, making us smarter, safer, and more efficient.

AI, augmented reality, wearable devices, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior, which will then improve health care and education, Rainie said.

As the environment gets more ‘intelligent’ these systems will be able to maintain themselves. But privacy will continue to be a concern. Increased digital divides may occur along with employment displacement due to AI. Abuse and abusers will evolve and scale, which may lead to more hacking to steal important data.

“Who do you trust, who will be a great steward?” Rainie said. “Something bad is always going to happen but who is going to be the best at notifying you of the bad actors?”

Bruno Kurtic, founding VP, strategy and solutions, Sumo Logic, discussed how, “Business Intelligence Becomes Continuous Intelligence for Digital Business” during his part of the keynote presentation after Hainie.

To watch the video of Bruno Kurtic's presentation at Data Summit Connect 2020, go here.

Digital transformation is a business imperative, Kurtic said. It is a fundamental stage and it is nowhere near over.

In order to transform the organization, every company has to become its own software company and innovate in order to compete with others.

“Software is no longer a means to an end,” Kurtic said. “As we transform our product into experiences we must innovate.”

The annual Data Summit conference is going digital this year with Data Summit Connect, from June 8 –June 11 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

To access the program and register for Data Summit Connect, go to