How can the fight against money laundering be made more effective going forward without restricting digital human rights?

22 Oct 2020

When it comes to AML, data analytics, AI and machine learning are no longer some futuristic pipe dream. These technologies are already being employed all around us. According to Erica Olivius, product manager at Bisnode, while the results so far have been remarkable, this is just a glimpse of what’s to come.

“Data analysis, AI and machine learning are crucial when it comes to preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. It allows companies to more rapidly comb through vast amounts of data and identify anomalies, thereby speeding up their verification process – while keeping costs down. The fact that financial institutions around the world have started to invest heavily in these fields will greatly benefit their compliance work. This is the future.”

How do we protect digital human rights
However, with the access to all this data comes the responsibility to establish clear guidelines for how it may be handled – and by who. This is necessary to ensure that the personal information of clients, or others who might be included in the data sets, is actually kept personal. In the past few years, frequent data leaks and increased scrutiny of how data is used – such as in the case of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal – have led to a debate about how best to protect people’s “digital human rights”.

But does increased increased scrutiny, information sharing and new regulations necessarily equal less privacy for customers? Or is there a way to stay compliant while still protecting their digital human rights?

“The borderline between the legal use of information and digital human rights protection is not always obvious.”

Tania Cholet, Certified Compliance officer and senior product manager for AML compliance solutions

Your data is safe with us
“For example, not everyone knows that sharing some information through WhatsApp may lead to investigation by American authorities when corruption on a large scale is suspected. This puts an even greater emphasis on choosing a data analytics partner you can trust. For Bisnode, access to information comes with a responsibility to ensure that customers’ and individuals’ right to privacy is protected, and that data is not misused or corrupted. Since data and analytics are Bisnode’s main resources, data protection, privacy, security and integrity are vital for Bisnode’s market survival. So your personal data is safe with us.”

The need for a trustworthy digital infrastructure
Peter Nyberg, Group Director of Risk & Credit at Bisnode, agrees that defining our human rights in the digital space presents many challenges. “Most people I meet, if they sit down and consider it, end up with the perception that everything we do and create in the digital world is effectively given away, with limited or no benefit to ourselves, which pales in comparison to the wealth this content is generating elsewhere. When they compare with the the physical world, this would had been absurd, because it’s so far from what we associate with our rights. So that’s clearly a challenge. Yet, we must not make the mistake of believing it’s the digital world itself that is the challenge.”

Indeed, Peter Nyberg stresses that digitalization is per definition not a problem. “Almost all of our personal financial information, and even actual money, lives squarely in the digital world. Our saving, our pension funds, our mortgages are ones and zeroes. We’re perfectly happy about this for the most part, we generally feel confident that what is ours is ours, and won’t suddenly just vanish.”

This, Peter Nyberg says, proves that it is possible to build socially acceptable digital infrastructures which handle critical parts of people’s lives – and do this in such a way as to make people feel safe.

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