Interview: Link Privacy and Sustainability to Reset the Economy

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Mitch Ratcliffe of Earth911 has another conversation with Swedish private social network idka.com. This time, Good Tech host Elizabeth Perry digs into the implications for sustainable business of traditional privacy laws that treat personal information as the property of the company or entity that measures it. Security in personal information is essential to our identities and freedom of speech, sense of privacy, and opportunity to choose unconventional paths, but the information we share with companies can improve delivery and sustainability of products and services.

The discussion also explores the Global Data Production Regulation (GDPR), a year-old European law that strictly controls how personal information is used by companies. Google is the target of the first GDPR review, which was announced this week. If found in violation, Google could be fined $5.4 billion. GDPR and other laws will continue to test the limits of data sharing, but like consumer influence in sustainability, your choices will matter to the outcome. The first step is to demand transparency in companies’ activities. Ask them for information about the carbon and water impacts of their products or services. Ask for commitments to sustainability before sharing your personal information.


In the long run, strong limits on the use of data shared with companies — that is, they cannot resell it but use it only for serving our needs — will drive a discussion about the plans we have for ourselves and products that resolve those plans sustainably.

The future is up to you. What will the future of privacy look like? It’s impossible to predict with confidence, but Ratcliffe explains why the road to sustainability will pass through the same decision points as privacy and the future of work.

Catch more conversations with Mitch on Earth911’s Sustainability In Your Ear podcast.

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