Debunking the Reality Behind Data Privacy - An Interview with Shailendra Kumar (Author of Making Money Out of Data & Industry Veteran)

June 08, 2023

Data privacy is one of the biggest concerns for users in today’s time. There are numerous data breaches that happen via unethical ways. However, there are also innumerable companies that are collecting tonnes of personalized data without the user knowing it to gain an advantage or simply to sell data online.

In this interview, we reached out to Shailendra Kumar, author of the award-winning book “Making Money Out of Data: The Art & Science of Analytics”. In this conversation, he throws light on the level of how your data privacy is scrutinized. He also shares his personal experience of being a veteran for 25 years in the industry.

So, let’s dive in and learn about his journey & experience with data privacy…

Full Interview

1. How AI is gonna kill your privacy considering this was mentioned in a conversation with Sundar Pinchai on Conversational AI? What’s your view on privacy, when it comes to conversational AI, data gathering, and conversation?

It doesn't exist anywhere. Do you know that when you and I were talking every bit of this is logged into a server somewhere on the planet? Our conversation is being logged. and you won't be surprised if I take a few names then you will be offered an offer next week, so it does not exist. 

It was in 2008 or 2009. I wanted to meet my CEO. This is a very funny story considering you talking about privacy. I wanted to meet my CEO so I was in this senior leadership team. He was busy so I went to the PA and said can I have an appointment. She said it's very busy this week, Shelly next week would be a bit difficult too. I can get you a week later, I said don’t bother. 

I came back, I knew exactly what time every of Friday he goes for his grocery shopping and I accidentally appeared and I accidentally hit that meeting. 

So I'm telling you, it doesn't exist. This is so many years ago in a different part of the world but what I'm saying is, in any part of the world data privacy does not exist. In fact, I'll give you an example go on Google, just type and search for something. Even leave that, go on WhatsApp and talk to someone about something and you open Facebook. 

So that conversation between you on WhatsApp with someone has linked to that particular offer. I won't think of buying this. Oh good, I should buy this you were just thinking then I'll add another thing to you and you will not even realize this if you and I are talking about a printer on WhatsApp.

Five or six weeks later, you get an offer on a paper rim. You don't even know that when you were talking about buying a printer lead to creating this offer. So I would imagine that you bought a Printer and now that you've got a printer you will need paper, right but your privacy was never breached in any way. It is because I'm not offering you a printer right outside but what I'm offering you is paper so you won't even realize what I've done to you. 

Suddenly, I offered you a paper deal or a paper discount without you knowing. Okay, I've been short of paper. Yeah, that's why it that's a unique approach that made you think about privacy because not many people link it that way. At least the Layman doesn't know but the reality is this only. 

You've got the data because people are collecting your data and there are consumers. I promise, I bet actually to use that data to give them that experience that is Relevant. Right if it is not relevant, it's just a waste of time. So I've been in India for the last couple of months and I'm meeting these guys who talk about analytics. 

They talk about data analytics and I ask them how are you? what are you doing these days? And these are senior leaders and organizations whose job is to sell the Data. 

I said that's the worst thing that you can do because you will make no money with that. The money isn't made in those insights. The money is in doing the right thing by the customer. So not selling the data because that is a breach of privacy but doing something that is providing the customer with relevant recommendations so that they can get value out of it and that is the key.

2. How do you describe the legislative effort in terms of data privacy? Give me a picture of how safe these transactions are at this moment. How does the government stand in India in terms of protection of data breach?

Indian data is available as peanuts. I think peanuts are more expensive. I am being offered 39 crores of names and addresses in India for less than 250 rupees. 

I can't imagine, I can't even think of that. Well, they don't know what they're talking about and they're advertising it. Imagine they are advertising it on Facebook. You get them saying I'm selling 40 crores of Indian records and they've actually segmented it. Okay, I've given you AMEX records, and I'm giving you banking records. 

God knows what data is readily available. Today, I don't know what the government is doing about this because this is an absolute breach of privacy so let's talk about data. So, I was the chief data privacy officer for a large organization in Australia and data is at three levels. 

Number one, you've got sensitive data which is your name and address that cannot be shared which is called a breach of privacy. If you share that data. 

The second data is transactional data so that's not sensitive that is numbers you know. If I share it with you, it will be what 0-1-0-1-5-0-2. No one can make any sense of it. There is sensitive data, there is confidential data, and there is transactional data. So sensitive data, confidential data would be say data at a pin code level. However, that should not be shared. Although imagine someone sharing sensitive data on Facebook and selling it. For instance, names and addresses, this is the highest breach of anyone's Privacy

3. Do you think that India is still lagging behind in terms of data literacy? 

It's not that. Someone is deliberately extracting that data and putting it in some files. This has got nothing to do with literacy. If you're saying data literacy then imagine the guy who's actually copying that file and sending it to someone. He would know what he's doing. He should know the repercussion because they're in the industry of what they're doing. 

Watch the entire interview, here:

Yeah, so it has nothing to do with data literacy. This is a simple, what do you say stealing of data and the problem is, it is available freely or is as good as free. 250 rupees for 40 crore records, can you beat it 

Now, if I tell you that if I have that 40 crore record and I had run a kind of cleansing activity, I would still be in the playground of about 20 crores at 50 percent. 50% authentic records at 250 rupees my math will go you know, I can't even calculate that. And legitimate records in Australia or US, if they were to sell the records agreeing with the customer because you have to agree with the customer before you share it with someone per record would be around about 25 to 30 dollars. 

Now, here you're buying it for less than five dollars for 20 crore records. One record and if the customer agrees and you've got all bells and whistles in place. Do you know why you're using the data of one record, one legitimate record would be around about 25 to 30 dollars

4. What is something that you are looking forward to the most in data analytics and I would interchangeably say also ML and AI?

At the moment lots of organizations are working day in and day out to create the data analytics perspective in their organization. The challenge is they've been driven by a lot of organizations at IT companies who've got a vested interest in the creation of a collection of data. With the collection of data, you sell Hardware whether you sell storage space or sell software but with insights or knowledge, you sell nothing.

So a lot of these organizations are having a big gap where they are not able to utilize the data that they've been collecting in the past few years. In fact, a few organizations actually reached out to me to say I read my own live show. I have senior leaders who come in and have a chat with me and they said the problem is that all these Cloud companies, every month have a Target to increase their revenues that they're looking at increasing. It is by selling more Hardware Cloud space and software, nothing more. However, we don't know what is the value.

We are getting ushered into collecting the data and utilizing their software so that area is absolutely less blatant, it's free. People need to know how to use that data to solve problems and they don't know how to do that at the moment.

Want to follow the journey of Shailendra Kumar ahead, here’s his LinkedIn to stay connected. To read more compelling interviews in the future, subscribe to MobileAppDaily.

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