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The Age of Data Privacy

“Digital Transformation Frontiers” is a new series of fora where firms leading in digital transformation share their latest tech developments and visions with faculty members, students, and alumni, and for the Faculty to explore the potential of integrating their solutions/expertise into our research and teaching. To kick off this series, technology industry veteran Mr Mathias Berthelemot from R3 was invited to share his insights on data privacy. The forum was held on 24 August 2021 with a theme on The Age of Data Privacy.

Mr Berthelemot works at R3 looking after Strategy and Operations for APAC. With previous experience as a consultant as well as founding a tech company, his passion for technology has led him to become immersed in Digital Trust technologies, such as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), enterprise blockchain, and confidential computing.

During the forum, Berthelemot pointed out that the main challenge facing the industry has been data confidentiality, and that confidential computing could assure users that data are processed as described and in a tamper-proof way.

“Data breaching is increasingly common and data security is of paramount importance,” said Berthelemot. He highlighted the emerging need for Privacy Preserving Techniques (PPTs) and Privacy Enhancing Techniques (PETs), which he reckoned could completely change the game and the ways service providers process, protect and use customer data.

PETs make it possible for service providers to address privacy and data misuse concerns without reducing product utility. Berthelemot introduced current approaches to building privacy preserving solutions and techniques in confidential computing, zero-knowledge proofs, cryptographic MPC, homomorphic encryption, etc. He also went over the recent types of PPTs with a focus on Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and cases of its use and applicability in business today, as well as future direction of the technology.

Hardware-based TEE, according to Berthelemot, provides data integrity, data confidentiality and code integrity. He quoted a source saying that by 2025, half of the large organizations will adopt privacy enhancing computation for processing data in untrusted environments and multiparty data analytics use cases.

Berthelemot gave an introduction to his company R3’s confidential computing platform called Conclave and showed how it works. He believed that confidential computing addresses three main types of industry problems, namely risk management, trust and data availability, and industry insight. He cited use cases of data residency in the European Union, analytics solutions and capabilities of third-party firms, and private order matching, as well as trading in financial and commodities markets.

Lastly, Berthelemot explained how confidential computing could yield more brilliant results with the use of blockchain and DLT. He said existing DLT applications paired with confidential computing enable the delivery of new value-added data services, such as detecting sophisticated fraudulent activity, adding benchmarking services, and creating transaction-based pricing models without compromising on data privacy, given that DLT ensures that “what you see is what I see” in multiparty data sharing use cases and drives trust when establishing and maintaining agreements on shared facts.

The opening remark was given by Dr Xin Xu, Associate Dean (External Relations and Development) of the Faculty and Director of Faculty of Business Digital Transformation Centre. The forum was moderated by CW Brian Kei, Professor of Practice at the Faculty.

The Age of Data Privacy