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The Climate Corporation Announces Data Privacy Guidelines

Used properly, data gleaned from your
fields can help you boost yields and better target inputs.

Still, barriers exist. “There is
uncertainty about how farmer data is used, as well as privacy issues,” says
David Friedberg, chief executive of The Climate Corporation.

With that in mind, the San Francisco
firm that was purchased by Monsanto in late 2013 has announced some guidelines
to alleviate these concerns. They include:

•  


Farmer ownership of data.

“We clearly state the farmer will own the data they create or
provide to us,” says Friedberg. “The Climate Corporation will use it only to
improve the services to which they are subscribing. There will be safeguards.
And data will not be sold to any third party.

“We want to be clear about any aggregation (of
data),” continues Friedberg. “This forces us to get explicit consent from the
farmer for use of the data,” he says.

He notes that The Climate Corporation may ask
if it can use a farmer’s data to research better agronomic methods that will
benefit his or her farm, such as improved nitrogen application.

“If they say yes, we can use it (data) in a specific
way,” says Friedberg. However, this information cannot be used broadly for
other purposes, he says.

•  


Providership of free basic data services by The Climate Corporation.

•  


Establishment of
methods to enable

farmers to access and share information across technology
platforms.

“We can enable the farmer
to use it across other platforms at no cost,” he says.

However, Friedberg adds this approach requires industry
standards that enable both consistency in data collection and farmers’ easy
transfer of that data between platforms.

•  


Creation of an


Open
Agriculture Data Alliance.

(OADA). This will consist of providers and farmers acting
as an independent body to ensure that different platforms share common
interoperability, common data formats, and security and privacy standards.
Enabling different systems to work together will give farmers more control,
says Friedberg. Ultimately, this can help farmers optimize yield, improve conservation
practices, and boost profitability, he adds.

“We have been working informally with a number
of other industry leaders, and had conversations around this concept for some
time,” says Friedberg. He adds more information about who is involved will be shared
in the coming weeks.


Alleviating Concerns

All this is akin to what other industries, such as healthcare
and banking, have done to alleviate data privacy concerns, says Friedberg.
He notes a now-unnamed third party will regularly collect
security audits on the system.

“There are always concerns
that emerge,” he says. “That is why we are trying to be proactive and get in
front of it. We know we need to build the farmer’s trust. Our intention is not
to disadvantage the farmer in any way. We want to deliver value, and lay down guiding
principles that put to rest any concerns. We believe by partnering in the right
way, data science holds tremendous potential to support productivity to meet
the growing world demand for food, feed and fiber.”

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