Recent news about data leaks and the unlawful sharing and use of personal data could not have been reported at a better time. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into force on 25 May 2018, and it sets many requirements for processing personal data for companies around the world. The GDPR doesn’t just protect the personal data of individuals, it also protects the data of people who work at companies.
Many of us have come across machine translations online. Posts on Facebook and Twitter are translated into the user’s native language using automatic translation. Google Translate offers real-time translations, which allows people who do not speak the same language to communicate with each other. Neural networks and machine learning open up new opportunities for information sharing and communication between people, but they also give data security experts at different companies lots to think about. Would your company be willing to let your employee’s smartphone listen in on confidential phone calls so that you could use the data from them in advertising? Would you be willing to use the data to develop your machine learning algorithm? It is ultimately our responsibility to find out what data is being collected about us and our company – preferably before we set out to do something.
Controlled machine translation
As companies correct and update their data security policies, machine translation is one of the babies that they can easily throw out with the bathwater. However, there are many machine translation (MT translation) services and lots of machine translation software, so you shouldn’t treat them as one big mass.
If you’re thinking about using a free, publicly available machine translation engine, you should familiarise yourself with it before you start using it. Do you know how the engine is processing and selling the data from the text that you have translated? When you use this type of MT translation, the ownership of the content that you have sent to the engine is often transferred to the party that owns the MT system. From there, the data can be used for unforeseen purposes with unforeseen consequences. How does the service generate its revenue stream? Nothing is free, especially in business!
Reliable and well-known machine translation tools often cost money, but they offer customised translation assistance to each company that purchases a licence. The purchased machine translation software can be implemented in the company’s working environment on the company’s own terms. Furthermore the machine translation service providers will act according to strict data protection agreements. The MT service providers can also be audited.
Learn and teach
Does your company monitor or limit the use of free machine translation services or software? Have personnel been trained on the use of machine translation software?
The GDPR adds its own spice to the mix because personal data must be traceable and companies must be able to demonstrate the data’s storage methods. Using a free, open machine translation service has the same results as an undetected data leak. Even though your company can no longer control the leaked data, the service has most likely saved user IP addresses (identifiable personal data) which can be used to trace the data back to your company in the future. How would you react in such a crisis?
Prevent your company’s employees from using free, open machine translation services, and teach your personnel about the dangers of such services.
Tips to avoid problems related to machine translation
Choose a reliable translation partner. Professional companies never use free, public or open machine translation tools. If you are interested in machine translation and if your company needs machine translation services, a good language service company can help in offering you great solutions. If you still decide to continue using a free machine translation engine, make sure you read through its terms of service carefully.
Stay up-to-date on who you are sharing your data with and if the data contains information that falls within personal data in the GDPR. Keep your supply chain as simple as possible. Centralising your translation services to one translation service provider also makes it easier to track personal data. Data can be searched for and erased from the business process management system, file storage, the translation memory and term base upon your company’s request.
If you only need translations occasionally or you need translations for internal use, purchase your own machine translation tool – a good translation partner will help and provide you with consultation.