Recent regulatory moves to strengthen consumer privacy will be largely ineffective, according to OpenText CEO and CTO, Mark Barrenechea, who argues consumer habits means a technology-led approach is a more viable option.

“I think we’ve lost the privacy war. There is so much data available [now],” Barrenechea told Which-50 during a media session at the company’s inaugural Asian user conference in Singapore this week.

Which-50 had asked the OpenText chief if the pendulum had swung on rampant data collection and use, particularly by marketers. He said, in his opinion, the efforts to protect consumer privacy were mostly in vein because individuals were volunteering their data freely and younger generations, unlike his generation, “don’t really care” about protecting their privacy online.

According to Barrenechea, that trend is likely to continue and there is a fundamental need to provide data in order to participate online.

“GDPR is an attempt to put in check the rights of an individual to be forgotten. [But] you have to participate in the internet,” Barrenechea said comparing those who didn’t to tribes of people who had no contact with the rest of society.

“You can’t, as a tribe, not participate in the internet. GDPR is an attempt to put this in check; to be forgotten or to opt out.”

OpenText CEO and CTO, Mark Barrenechea. Supplied

Which-50 asked if that meant GDPR will ultimately be successful.

“I think GDPR will be ubiquitous and unsuccessful,” Barrenechea responded.

Pressed on whether the upcoming California Privacy Act, which enshrines data rights to individual in America similarly to GDPR and those in Europe, would also fail to achieve its desired effect, Barrenechea said consumer habits and technology would be a better alternative to any privacy regulation.

“People keep volunteering their data. And as long as you’re volunteering your data there’s going to be no regulation to keep privacy in check. So if, generationally, people are uploading their Facebook data and their DNA, I don’t think anything like GDPR can keep [privacy] in check.”

Technology solution

Barrenechea, who heads the leading enterprise information management software company, says there are viable non-regulatory, technology solutions for the privacy problem, saying the internet needs to evolve,  offering identity containers as one possible solution.

“A law isn’t going to protect [privacy]. It’s got to be something technology [based], a standard around an identity container.”

Earlier in the day, Barrenechea argued information and talent was increasingly becoming the critical resource and factor in business differentiation.

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