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Cisco Live 2018: 'GDP is directly linked to GDPR'

The protection of data will become linked with economic growth, according to Cisco's chief privacy officer.

With data the new currency, economic growth will become directly linked to the protection of data, Cisco chief privacy officer Michelle Dennedy has told ZDNet.

Speaking during Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando, Dennedy said the greatest issue affecting privacy besides GDPR is polarisation.

"It really worries me that we have the instability of our global economic landscape; oftentimes, when you have economic upheaval, people think they can start skimping on things like security and privacy. I don't think that that is possible anymore," she told ZDNet.

"I think gross domestic product or GDP is going to be tightly linked to things like GDPR, because the integrity of your networks will be the integrity of your data."

According to Dennedy, GDP will be increasingly dependent on data. Comparing it to currency, she said the protection of privacy is likewise cultural.

"I think data is very similar in that way, in that the way we want to tell our stories, the way we collectively have agreed to be policed or be interactive with our governments and with our businesses and with each other, and even cross-generation, is going to change going forward, and so that's why I think it is so bound up with GDP," she explained.

Read also: Cisco Live 2018: CEO Chuck Robbins pushes tighter datacentre security

Dennedy said "every single one" of Cisco's customers has been asking about how to deal with GDPR and ensure they remain in line with the regulations, with the first step to figure out where their data is and how they're going to do that.

"We provide sort of a buddy system, if you will, so I'll talk peer to peer with my peers at a lot of our customers, and talk through the governance activities that we've gone through," she said.

"And then the other piece is really putting together an architecture sometimes for some of these customers, most of whom understand the GDPR is very easy to get caught within that piece of legislation, doing business or housing customers or customer data in the European Union, it's easy to get caught."

Cisco customers have also been reassured by the knowledge that the networking giant has actually worked with companies on similar regulations throughout the world -- Dennedy said similar principles are present elsewhere, and that it is far more complex in the 27 member economies for APAC.

She said the trickiest thing in the Asian region right now is making sure datacentres there and in Europe still have enough framework to interoperate.

"What we've done is signed on for the cross-border privacy rules framework, or CBPR, and so we actually started there first before we went to Europe to do GDPR. And the regulators in Europe were very pleased to learn that what we were doing was really taking a global approach with our partners, with our processes downstream, with our customers and our strategy, so we're looking at the principles of GDPR, not necessarily all of the specific implementations," she explained.

"Not everything is a cultural fit, but the primary principles of know where your data is, protect it proportionately according to risk, and then understanding what your governance model is.

"I think GDPR at the end of the day is as much about culture and people as it is technology, so our technology falls into place after all these pieces have been put together."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Orlando as a guest of Cisco

Cisco Live 2018 Coverage