The power of Privacy Enhancing Technologies is gaining unprecedented global recognition. While the public discussion around Privacy Enhancing Technologies, or PETs, and their role in transforming how and where data can be securely leveraged has been building for some time, 2023 was a milestone year for concrete progress. Thanks to visible global efforts by government bodies, policy leaders, think tanks, industry consortiums, academic institutions, and technology pioneers, there was a surge of recognition relating to the transformational power of this family of technologies.
During 2023, we also saw the growth in our collective understanding of the importance of Secure AI and how PETs can be leveraged to enhance decision making, protect privacy, and combat broader legal, societal, and national security risks.
Here’s a look back at some of the significant progress that took place over the past year — milestones that led us to label 2023 as ‘The Year of Privacy Enhancing Technologies’:
In January, the Royal Society published their PETs guide, From Privacy to Partnership, capturing the ways technology can support data governance and enable new, innovative uses of data for public benefit.
“Science funders, including governments and intergovernmental bodies, should accelerate and incentivize the development and maturation of PETs.”
In February, the UN published The United Nations Guide on Privacy Enhancing Technologies for Official Statistics, highlighting the need for privacy protections when leveraging the vast amounts of available data.
“Given the difficulties of being a first mover in an industry to adopt PETs, concrete guidance from regulatory agencies can be a critical step that spurs adoption of new technologies that can improve overall data privacy.”
The National Science and Technology Council produced the National Strategy to Advance Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing and Analytics in March, reinforcing the need to move beyond research towards true implementation of these technologies.
“This Strategy intends to chart a path forward for the Nation to steward responsible and accountable development and adoption of these transformative technologies.”
In April, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency swiftly took up the call for implementation within the broader context of Zero Trust in the Zero Trust Maturity Model version 2.0.
The optimal state for data usage is that an “Agency encrypts data in use where appropriate.”
The UK Information Commissioner’s Office in June put out its Guidance on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, which underscored the value of implementation and outlined specific recommendations for industries on how to choose a PET.
“By using PETs, you can obtain insights from datasets without compromising the privacy of the people whose data is in the dataset.”
In July, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the Intelligence Community Data Strategy to accelerate the efforts across all of its agencies to make data “more interoperable, discoverable, and artificial intelligence-ready.”
“The IC will plan for and expand capabilities for data sharing, improve data usability, develop a data-savvy workforce, and continue to innovate toward a data-driven IC enterprise, incorporating privacy and security protections by design."
In October, President Biden signed The Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, which included explicit guidance for federal agencies to implement PETs as part of their AI strategies.
Federal agencies should “...identify ongoing work and potential opportunities to incorporate PETs into their operations…and encourage the adoption of leading-edge PETs solutions for agencies’ use”
In November, and in response to the need for industry guidance on Secure AI, The National Cyber Security Council, an international group of cybersecurity experts, released their Guidelines for AI System Development.
“Privacy-enhancing technologies (such as differential privacy or homomorphic encryption) can be used to explore or assure levels of risk associated with consumers, users and attackers having access to models and outputs.”
Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) are already being applied to a broad range of data usage and Secure AI challenges across industries — use cases that will only increase in 2024. This family of technologies, which garnered increasing attention from regulators, industry analysts, and global leaders, will continue to prove its staying power during the year ahead by allowing enterprise data users to overcome data silos and jurisdictional, organizational, and security boundaries. We can't wait to help make it happen.