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We already know that the Platform-as-a-Service model of data analysis enables creation of metaphorically delicious, customized pizzas with a wide variety of toppings. The data “toppings” are provided by the platform from curated and relevant sources, or you can bring your own data and just use the PaaS as an “oven”. Using a combination of both can unlock even more complex and powerful insights. It sounds like a data scientist’s dream come true—but how will your legal or privacy departments feel about it? Just like pizzerias, not all platforms are equal, so you need to evaluate a product’s risk management features with the same enthusiasm as the tools and data available.

Everyone’s a Winner

Ask a data scientist how much data they need, and “more” is a typical answer. Ask their privacy or legal team and “the minimum amount of data needed to accomplish the task” ranks high on the response list. They might seem initially to be competing priorities, but the good news is that this is not a zero-sum game if you choose the right partner. In fact, secure and privacy-safe data environments will attract more data from both suppliers and users if built correctly.

Data clean rooms attempt to balance availability of data with legally required protections of that data. They do this by centralizing the effort and expense of compliance, thereby lessening the burden on individual companies to build their own internal controls just so they can use their (or others) data in ways that advance their business. This helps prevent companies that use the clean room from incurring the threat of penalties and reputational risk that stem from non-compliance with regard to privacy and security. Think about it like this: for most companies, their internal data environment is like a private pool—convenient, but lacking adequate security and costly to maintain. On the other hand, a hotel resort pool that is staffed with professionally trained lifeguards offers a level of safety and peace of mind that you cannot match in your own backyard. Not to mention that the resort pool will have features and users to collaborate with that you will not find at home. The data clean room is the hotel resort pool. This explains why, according to Gartner, “data and analytics leaders who share data externally generate three times more measurable economic benefit than those who do not.”

Finding The Perfect Partner

Selecting the right data clean room to provide both data protection and data enablement does not need to be complicated. When interviewing partners to be your “data lifeguard”, start with the basics:

  • Does this partner have a proven track record of leading their industry in data privacy?
  • Does the clean room utilize privacy enhancing technologies to support their data privacy claims?
  • Are they focused only on data monetization, or are they also trusted by non-profit and research institutions to power privacy-safe insights for the public good?
  • Will the clean room help you manage your increasingly complex obligations of handling sensitive data, such as processing user privacy requests?

If you receive positive responses to these questions, your privacy and legal teams will thank you and help pave the way for unlocking value in your data. If you don’t like what you hear after asking the above, you have to ask yourself how “clean” is this room and do I want to share my most valuable assets with them?


After all, you never know who wants to steal your pizza.