Mastercard, Chief Data Officer: Responsible Data Innovation Takes the Whole Village

Mastercard, Chief Data Officer: Responsible Data Innovation Takes the Whole Village

(US and Canada) JoAnn Stonier, Chief Data Officer, Mastercard, speaks with Riddhiman Das, CEO, TripleBlind about the idea of responsible innovation, data ethics, and privacy protection.

Stonier says that responsible data innovation involves the whole community, more so because regulation always comes after. “Regulation has a role, but it lags innovation. The law can only innovate what is already in existence and innovators by their nature are always at the leading edge. Regulation is necessary, but responsible innovation has to be done by organizations. Technology is a tool for that and so, people who create the platforms, the processes, and the systems, also have to be responsible in how they innovate,” she adds.

Elaborating on the approach to data governance at Mastercard, Stonier says that in a way, it takes the entire village to pull it off. The organization has its data responsibility principles, and the entire community sticks to those principles.

“We review the potential impacts within certain data domains. Because it's different if you're doing a fraud product, or a credit-scoring product, or a product that's just an econometric analysis, or a marketing program. All of those are going to be different. So, responsible innovation is a kind of aware innovation, but it's a responsibility that everybody shares,” she adds.

Stonier points out that the inclusive approach is particularly important because the current scenario is like a pivot point of connected ecosystems where everybody's learning from each other and the systems, too, are learning from each other. “One error can get badly amplified if we're not really designing in a responsible and aware way,” she says. “So, it takes the whole village. It takes everybody — regulators, organizations, companies, academic institutions, governments, as well as the technology — to enable.”

When it comes to evaluating, discovering, and implementing privacy-enhancing technologies, Stonier says that the best approach is to look at new technology in a lot of different areas.

“We've come a long way from hashing of data and salting of data to the new tools and techniques of obfuscation, anonymization, synthetic data, differential privacy, looking at secure multi-party computation. We're actually looking at putting lots of these different techniques together in ways that enable analytics, that enable insight building, but in a way that ensures privacy protection.”

Stonier mentions that the new techniques are interesting because of how they enable calculations in partnership with other organizations. It is also something that Mastercard is currently exploring ongoing pilot projects. “We are working to look at combinations of tools. I think we're on the verge of a future where we're going to need lots of different tools in our toolkit to solve different issues. And in order to actually partner and share information with other organizations in ways that are really thoughtful and also just protect it,” she adds.

She explains that investing in thought leadership is more than good business practice, it's part of being responsible with the data that's entrusted to any organization as a data steward.

“We are a leader in creating a future of data innovation in a responsible manner. We're gonna lead in responsible data practices for the near term,” Stonier says.

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