The rights to our online personal data has become a dominant subject in the media recently, not least with the Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. Many have been left questioning how we share information online and to what extent we trust the services and platforms we use to keep connected. Concerns around our digital footprint – who has access to it and what consequence that may have – has shifted conversations surrounding human rights into the digital domain. We find ourselves questioning what are our individual rights to the data that ourselves and others continually disseminate online?

The implementation of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) arrives at a pivotal time. The sentiment of the GDPR is to give greater security to personal data and to enable individuals to access and control what data is being stored so it can be modified or deleted. As countless GDPR emails flooded our inboxes in recent weeks asking us, sometimes characterfully, to re-enlist as subscribers, we found ourselves as an organisation asking what this change in law really means to us?

Our mission is to develop a new angle on benchmarking which aligns global industries and guides corporate performance in line with the SDGs, with the ultimate aim of impact. Whether we achieve what we want to achieve is dependent on data; from the quantified data with numbers and statistics which will help form the metrics capable of authentically ranking SDG performance, to the qualitative stories which weave in human perceptions and ideas so as to expand the reach of our work. That our benchmarks must be free, transparent and publicly accessible is central to their success.

As a benchmarking alliance we found the GDPR’s ‘right to be forgotten’ an interesting concept. At a first glance this principle seems to encompass greater privacy and rights to removal, which may be seemingly contrary to our reporting system. But as the WBA strive towards creating comparable benchmarks, we see how this concept can become integrated into our methodology. As we build partnerships, companies are acknowledging not only how they may have a negative impact but also pledging their efforts in improving their practices. In this sense, companies can improve their performance and earn the ‘right to be forgotten’ from previous lower rankings. The desire to have any data ‘forgotten’ that has broader consequences is only earnt through stakeholders taking stock, realising their accountability and ultimately stepping up their sustainability game. Data-shared is data-power!