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Using artificial intelligence (AI) to process personal data is a risky business. Organizations using AI and machine learning (ML) models to gather insights from user’s data need to ensure they’re not violating the rights of data subjects as granted under regulations such as as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or they run the risk of serious compliance liabilities. 

However, to help address that issue, a number of vendors are aiming to prevent compliance issues around processing personal data through the use of responsible AI.

Protopia AI, which today announced it has raised $6 million as part of a seed funding round led by ATX Venture Partners, has developed a solution that’s designed to anonymize user data so that organizations can process data while protecting the privacy rights of their customers. 

The provider’s Stained Glass Transform software uses AI and ML to identify the critical data an organization’s AI models need to generate insights, and obfuscates personal information, so that it isn’t identifiable or at risk of leakage to unauthorized third parties. 


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Data anonymization as a compliance necessity 

In many ways, the legality of data processing remains uncertain. Just recently, the French SA fined Clearview AI €20 million ($21 million) for allegedly collecting and processing the personal data of individuals residing in France. 

Similarly, human rights activist Tanya O-Caroll recently filed a lawsuit in the UK claiming that Facebook violated the GDPR by processing and profiling her personal data and tailoring it for advertisements.

While these are unique cases with individual nuances, from a broader perspective, organizations processing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) need to be extremely careful not to violate local and international data protection regulations. 

Unfortunately, this climate of legal uncertainty has prevented many organizations from leveraging the data they have access to, out of fear of legal liabilities. 

“Accessing key data for AI is a major hurdle. It is ironic because companies now have access to unprecedented volumes of data, and can now use new machine learning tools to make business predictions and tap into efficiencies,”  said co-founder and CEO of Protopia, Eiman Ebrahimi. 

“However, they are often blocked because the value and insights from the data are entangled in privileged customer data. In fact, a 2022 Gartner report on CEOs found that the top barrier to AI implementation is data accessibility,” Ebrahimi said. 

Protopia AI aims to address this situation by empowering enterprises to leverage the data they hold, while minimizing identifiable information in structured and unstructured visual, tabular, text and audio data assets, to ensure that consumer’s privacy rights remain intact. 

A look at the other vendors Anonymizing AI 

Protopia AI, of course, isn’t the only provider that’s turned to AI and ML to start identifying and minimizing sensitive data. 

Private AI, which recently announced raising $8 million in funding, uses ML to detect, redact, and replace PII with anonymized, synthetic personal data sets so that organizations can process data and generate insights without exposing personal information. 

Similarly, Gretel.Ai, which raised $50 million in Series B funding in 2021, provides an AI-based solution that uses APIs to generate anonymized synthetic data sets so users can train deep learning ML models while keeping personal data shielded from compliance violations. 

According to Ebrahimi, the key difference between Protopia AI and these solutions is its emphasis on AI enablement.
“At its core, Protopia AI is an AI enablement company that allows companies to easily share and analyze data that was previously inaccessible. While the solution protects sensitive data, it helps enterprises leverage their data to the fullest for ML/AI,” Ebrahimi said. 

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