Do data privacy rules apply to crowdsourcing?

With so much data processing to be had these days, crowdsourcing has become an invaluable opportunity for organizations to manage and verify huge amounts of data. But it’s understandable that global connectivity and the platforms that supply these services, beg the question: is crowdsourcing truly safe for data?

We are now, more than ever, heavily fixated on our data and how it’s shared. And that’s on the granular level. Millions of people share their personal data with companies every day. In response, global governing bodies have put stricter rules on what companies can and can’t do with people’s data — going as far as dictating what data can be collected when a visitor goes to a company’s website. So how can you avoid the risk of compromised customer data with a service that utilizes contributors from all over the world?

Here’s a breakdown on crowdsourcing, data privacy, and how to ensure your data will be safely processed.

What is crowdsourcing?

Let’s start with the basics. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, most often via the internet. Essentially, crowdsourcing is a term to define the concept or method of using a group or community to accomplish a task. The most important thing to consider is how a company crowdsources.

When it comes to data entry, crowdsourcing is but one method of completing the task. With ScaleHub, crowdsourcing is one component of a solution that combines the best of artificial and human intelligence to process data with over 99% accuracy.

Who is responsible for ensuring data privacy?

Ultimately, the responsibility of ensuring the privacy of customer data falls to the company that collects it. And as more and more companies ask for customer data, the more selective customers become in granting access to theirs. Gartner’s Q422 The Chief Marketing Officer reported on the rise in customer concerns around privacy:

“Rather than growing more comfortable over time, U.S. consumers’ fears about sharing information online continues to increase. A significant majority of U.S. consumers (72%) agree that it makes them very nervous to share any personal information online. Brands’ messaging efforts to assuage consumers’ worries and government efforts to regulate this facet of information technology have not helped consumers feel more secure. This wariness is unlikely to abate in 2023. Although no simple solutions exist, some of the root causes of consumer mistrust stem from the continued headlines that detail data exposures and the perception that corporations will continue to monetize consumer behavior online.”

Connectivity is a human experience, and as technology grows, so too does the knowledge of the people that use it. Regardless of whatever border a company finds itself within globally, if a company collects important personal data from its customers, it should have a strategy for safe and responsible data processing.

Crowdsourcing is global, but data privacy laws are often country-specific

Every country has its own data privacy laws; the EU in particular has very strict rules when it comes to collecting information. If you’ve followed the news, you may have heard of cases where the EU has ordered a tech giant like Apple, Google, or Facebook to pay a fine for not adhering to their data privacy guidelines.

But with a wealth of bad actors out there that can easily hack into credit card processing companies and telecommunications firms – not to mention the information that’s stored in cookies for any given site – bodies like the EU take the initiative to ensure businesses are doing all they can to protect not only their customers’ data, but also those of any global citizen who crosses their path.

How does ScaleHub safeguard data privacy?

In order to meet the unique needs of each client and their country’s regulations, we can constrain crowdsourcing to a particular area or region through private, BPO, or hybrid groups. A unique “crowd fit” supports a customized data process that meets processing requirements. For four real-life examples of how ScaleHub does that, check out our post here.

How to ensure your data will be safely crowdsourced

If you plan to crowdsource the processing or validating of your data, it’s up to you to ensure that any person or organization outside of your company who works with your data should be able to provide the privacy policies and/or certifications you require. At ScaleHub, we build our solutions with security top of mind. Here’s how we ensure the safety of any data we touch:

After extracting information from a document, we break apart the various bits of information into pieces. This breaks the larger task of typing or validating data into many smaller tasks that crowd contributors can work on simultaneously. Snippeting also ensures the security of your customers’ data because crowd contributors only see a part of the document—never the whole. In other words, rather than one person seeing a document (and all the data it contains) in its entirety, the data is broken into pieces such as first name, zip code, street name, last name etc., and those now anonymized pieces are sent to multiple people.

For highly sensitive information like bank account or Tax ID numbers, we take it a step further by scrambling the individual characters of these data types. The results are unorganized numbers that can’t be traced back to the original. For more on these methods, watch our video here.

What about data that is not only very sensitive, but also cannot be snippeted?

When data is sensitive, but cannot be snippeted – as might be the case with some data that is part of insurance claims or medical records, for example – there’s a crowd for that. ScaleHub provides the option of using a private crowd that is formed by a companies’ own employees or a specialized, selected BPO crowd with skilled professionals to process sensitive personal data and documents with regulated privacy considerations.
ScaleHub’s pre-configured BPO crowds allow us to offer the same benefits of crowdsourcing to customers with specific data processing requirements. To learn more about crowdsourcing sensitive information and different kinds of crowds, watch our “Fit your crowd to your function” video.

Learn more

Navigating data safety doesn’t have to be stressful. At ScaleHub, we build risk management into our process. To learn more about the steps we take to ensure your customers’ data is processed while being protected, watch this short video about “Crowdsourcing and data privacy” below.


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