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Trusted applications of personal data could boost innovation and growth in the European economy

The effective and trusted deployment of personal data could be a boon to consumers and a source of massive growth in the European economy, but only if public- and private-sector organizations ensure that consumers are aware of the benefits while assuring adequate privacy controls, according to a new study, "The Value of Our Digital Identity," conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and sponsored by Liberty Global, Inc, (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB, LBTYK), which included a poll of 3,000 European consumers.

The report quantifies for the first time the current and potential economic value of a person's "digital identity" or the sum of all digitally available information about an individual—everything from what consumers reveal about themselves on social media to data produced by online transactions and other sources.

Economic value

The economic value of applications built on the use of digital identity for both public- and private-sector organizations is expected to reach €330 billion in Europe by 2020, according to the report. BCG estimates that the consumer benefit will be more than double the organizational value—€670 billion annually by 2020—mainly stemming from reduced prices through data-driven cost synergies, time savings through self-service transactions, and the high value individuals place on free online services and mobile apps, supported at least in part by the sharing of their personal data.

Two thirds of potential value generation, €440 billion in 2020, is nevertheless at risk if stakeholders fail to establish a trusted flow of data.

"The opportunities presented by the responsible sharing of a person's digital identity are enormous, but can only be gained if digital identity is handled in a safe and transparent way," says Manuel Kohnstamm, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of Liberty Global, Inc. "It is critical that industry takes the lead to establish a trusted platform for the flow of personal data, otherwise, significant value for consumers and industry alike will be lost."

John Rose, Senior Partner at BCG and co-author of the report, adds: "Leveraging personal data and digital identity can be a key growth driver in an overall stagnant European economy—potentially worth up to 8% of GDP by 2020. Yet our research shows that two-thirds of this value is at risk given current consumer concerns about privacy and lack of control. Our survey also suggests that it will be critical for companies, governments, and non-profit organizations to establish and execute personal data applications against crystal-clear, transparent principles of use and easy-to-use controls that are tailored to the context in which the data will be used, and for industry and regulators to collaborate on solutions that balance adequate levels of protection with practical approaches that allow for the greatest social and economic value creation."

Consumer perspective

A survey of the actual data-sharing behaviors of over 3,000 consumers conducted for the report focused on the factors that spur, and hinder, the sharing of data:

  • 88% of respondents consider organizations from at least one industry a threat to their privacy, but very few adapted their behavior.
  • Consumers with higher than average awareness of data uses require 26% more benefit in return for sharing their data.
  • Few individuals are in control of their digital identity. Just 10% of respondents had ever done six or more out of eight common privacy-protecting activities (e.g., change privacy settings, opt in to/out of data use).
  • Consumers who are able to manage their privacy are up to 52% more willing to share than those who aren't.
  • Trust differs per sector: Consumers are on average 30% more willing to share data with e-commerce companies, cable operators, and automobile manufacturers than with Web 2.0 communities.
  • The "right to be forgotten" has a small but consistently positive impact on the willingness to share, increasing it by 10% to 18%.

New paradigm

The report concludes that, in order to unlock the full value potential, business and political leaders need to embrace a new paradigm for digital identity applications:

  • Benefits. Most consumers are willing to share their personal data, given sufficient awareness on the benefits of digital identity applications and the implications for data collection and usage.
  • Responsibility. Personal data needs to be recognized as a highly valuable asset, requiring an adequately high level of security, and a limitation to the least sensitive data for the targeted use.
  • Transparency. By being open and clear about their data processes, organizations effectively mitigate confidence risks and attract more informed customers to their platforms and applications.
  • Control. Individuals' preferences regarding data sharing differ widely. Easy-to-use options and controls allow individuals to adapt their sharing to their specific needs.

The full report can be downloaded at

About Liberty Global

Liberty Global is the leading international cable company, with operations in 13 countries. We connect people to the digital world and enable them to discover and experience its endless possibilities. Our market-leading television, broadband Internet, and telephony services are provided through next-generation networks and innovative technology platforms that connect 20 million customers who subscribe to 34 million services as of September 30, 2012.

Liberty Global's consumer brands include UPC, Unitymedia, Kabel BW, Telenet, and VTR. Our operations also include Chellomedia, our content division, UPC Business, a commercial services division, and Liberty Global Ventures, our investment fund. For more information, please visit or see contact below.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 77 offices in 42 countries. For more information, please visit

About Business Wire
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