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How Companies Can Safeguard User Privacy in the Data Era

July 18, 2018, 3:20 AM UTC
Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2018
037 Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2:15 PM AFTERNOON ROUNDTABLES CONNECTED, YET PROTECTED
Intelligence Track hosted by KPMG Technology’s use of personal data has unlocked a wealth of new capabilities. It’s also created an array of new risks. Can you design an ethical security system that uses, but not abuses, personal information? A spirited discussion about how products can preserve trust and privacy in an age of intelligent interconnectedness. Speakers: Chad Greene, Director, Security, Facebook Hal Lawton, President, Macy’s Inc. Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President and Former Leader, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft Nat Natarajan,Chief Product and Technology Officer, Ancestry.com Zeynep Inanoglu Ozdemir, Global Vice President, Product Communications, Palantir Technologies Kirsten Wolberg, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, DocuSign Moderator: Aaron Pressman, Fortune Photograph by Fortune Brainstorm Tech
Stuart Isett—Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Many companies use data they collect about you to make the online services and connected devices you use that much more convenient. But that vast trove of personal information can also come with a number of risks like hacking.

The complexities of how companies can best navigate this reality was the focus of a round table discussion at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. on Tuesday.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president at Microsoft and former leader of its Windows and devices group, talked about his company’s efforts to replace passwords with biometrics, the use of fingerprints and eye readers instead of passwords. But he quickly pointed out the privacy concerns about using biometrics while another participant pointed out, ominously, that many peoples’ fingerprints are already available online.

Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s, said his company is “using AI to look for behaviors” online that may signal security concerns. But Cliff Justice, a partner at consulting firm KPMG, mentioned that sophisticated hackers are now starting to use AI to power their attacks.

“It’s a marathon. It’s a race,” Lawton said. “An arms race,” agreed Kirsten Wolberg, chief technology and operations officer of digital signature firm DocuSign.

“We are constantly struggling as companies to make sure we have the best experience for customers and at the same time ensure their security,” said Nat Natarajan, chief technology and product officer at Ancestry.com.