ITU

Committed to connecting the world

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré 
 

World Economic Forum (WEF 2013) 
Unlocking Value From Personal Data - Finding the Balance
 
24 January 2013, Davos, Switzerland
 
Ladies and gentlemen,

Data gathering and data storing continue to be essential and valuable activities across all societies today.

Look at the global ICT data we collect at ITU, for example, which allows everyone to see the state of the global ICT sector, and to see where investment – for example – has been successful, or where it is most needed.

It is important, however, that data collection and data use is transparent – and this is especially true concerning personal data.

This is worth remembering in an era where we are entrusting data – including both personal and business data – to strangers on a scale never before imagined.

Data in the cloud; data on search engines; data on social networking sites; data transmitted through online commerce.

New data storage technology and the software which makes it useful and valuable can improve personal and professional interactions in ways only dreamed of in the past.

Look at simple examples, such as modern bus stops or train stations that are able to tell you how long you will have to wait for the next bus or train.

Concerning the ‘cloud’, we can use its power and scale to bring virtually unlimited processing power and data storage capacity to everyone – from the most tech-savvy knowledge worker in the great industrial cities of the developed world to the most rural or remote household in the desert or the mountains.

But we do need to ensure that individuals know (and consent to) how information about them is being used, and that companies, and indeed governments, do not abuse their ‘information advantage’.

I firmly believe that ‘big data’ will be one of the next big things to drive forward both social and economic progress – but it is all a question of finding the right balance, and asking the right questions…

Thank you.