Organisations are facing escalating privacy concerns surrounding the utilisation of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), while reaping lucrative returns on privacy investments, as outlined in Cisco's latest Data Privacy Benchmark Study 'CISCO 2024 Data Privacy Benchmark'.

The report is based on the insights from 2,600 privacy and security professionals across 12 countries. In the context of India, the study discloses that 94% Indians agree that a global provider can protect data better than a local provider, the report states. 

“Among organisations, most (91%) believe that their data would be inherently safer if it is only stored within their country or region. But almost the same number (86%) also said that a global provider, operating at scale, can better protect their data compared to a local provider."

It says while governments, organisations, and individuals all have roles to play in protecting personal data, 50% of the Cisco 2023 Consumer Privacy Survey respondents say they wanted governments to take the lead. "Sixty-six percent of respondents also said privacy laws had a positive impact, compared to only 4% who said they have had a negative impact,” it adds.

The impact of privacy laws in India on businesses has been largely positive, as indicated by 88% of respondents, with 14% maintaining a neutral stance and only a minimal 6% reporting adverse effects on their business due to privacy regulations. It is the second-highest endorsement, following China at 91% positive, where only 1% reported a negative impact, the report reveals.

Among the top concerns cited were that the use of GenAI could hurt the organisation’s legal and intellectual property rights (69%), the information entered could be shared publicly or with competitors (68%), and that the information it returns to the user could be wrong (68%), as per the report.

Nearly all organisations (97%) feel they have a responsibility to use data ethically. Furthermore, 96% of participants affirm that privacy is not merely a compliance burden but a fundamental business imperative. The overwhelming sentiment, with 95% agreement, is that the benefits of privacy outweigh the associated costs.

In the Cisco 2023 Consumer Privacy Survey, respondents were asked for the actions organisations could take to reassure their customers about data use and AI.

“Over 70% of them said that auditing the AI applications for bias, improving transparency, ensuring a human was involved in the process, and instituting an AI ethics management program would make them more comfortable. When we asked the same question to organisations in this privacy benchmark, their top responses were explaining how the AI application works (50%), ensuring a human is involved in the process (50%), instituting an AI ethics management program (49%), and auditing the application for bias (33%),” the report states.

Harvey Jang, Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, Cisco says, “Privacy has become inextricably tied to customer trust and loyalty". "The risks of AI are real, but they are manageable when thoughtful governance practices are in place as enablers, not obstacles, to responsible innovation,” says Dev Stahlkopf, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Cisco.

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