Published On: May 4th, 20213.3 min read

Previously we’ve discussed what triggers the necessity of setting up data trusts. In this article, we’ll hover over the concept and probable benefits of a data trust.

What is a data trust?

Data Trust

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. In layman’s terms, a trust fund holds your assets for you, the beneficiary, and manages various aspects of that asset, providing a range of benefits. Now, data trust is a trust where the asset is data.

Historically, trusts have been used in law to hold and make decisions about assets such as property or investments. A data trust takes this concept but applies it to data. It is a legal structure that provides independent stewardship of some data to benefit a group of organizations or people. It is a fiduciary relationship between a board of trustees in control and the beneficiaries of a trust. The board of trustees is responsible for the privacy, security, and sharing aspects of the data they hold.

Benefits of a data trust

A data trust is usually set up for a specific kind or specific content of data. The trustee board is knowledgeable about sharing this particular kind of data and where a third party might try to violate privacy rules. So, with this data that they hold, if any third-party organization or company asks for that data, they’ll have to go through the trust. This leads to a handful of benefits.

Decision Fatigue eliminated

When you’re giving a specific range of your data to trust, you don’t have to go through pages after pages of a privacy policy to share your data. The trust can do it for you and decide if sharing is appropriate or not.

Giving you a voice

Data trusts usually have many beneficiaries (sometimes thousands or millions) for a specific type of data. That gives you the advantage of being a collective. As previously stated, a company wouldn’t pay you much importance if you reach out to them about one issue in their privacy policy. But, if you reach through a data trust, suddenly you’re not the only one that’s wanting the change in their law, it’s millions of people wanting the same thing. The data-taking company is bound to take it seriously.

Immediate termination of data sharing on suspicious activity

The trustee board can immediately stop sharing data with some companies if they detect any fishy business going on. In a typical case, you may have sent a legal notice to the company, and meanwhile, they would continue getting the data anyway.

Data trust to building a better AI

One of the greatest barriers to adopting and scaling AI applications is the scarcity of varied, high-quality raw data. To overcome it, firms need to share their data. However, the many regulatory restrictions and ethical issues surrounding data privacy pose a major obstacle to doing this. A novel solution that my firm is piloting that could solve this problem is data trust.

There’s a lot more to all the issues than meets the eye among these moral and legal grounds of data sharing, which often seems shaky. The recent phone call expose of a reputed Islamic figure in Bangladesh has raised similar ethical controversies and dilemmas. The question is: will “setting up data trusts and proper policies and exposure boundaries” put an end to these dilemmas? Well, certainly not. But that could be a start.

Loopholes in policies will continue to exist, and so will the attempts to patch up those faulty outcomes with better ideas and policies. And data trust is undoubtedly on the positive side in this conflict, that is, ensuring data privacy for all.

Check out our previous article where we discussed the necessities and cases where data trusts could help.

Contributor: Istiaq Bin Salam Siaam

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