Rebooting The Data Economy
Much of the Internet-using population is oblivious to the real value of their personal and behavioural data.
The EU's GDPR regulations were set to rebalance the power between individuals and the companies that know more about them, than perhaps their own families know. However, many still blindly click "Accept Recommended Cookies" as soon as we can.
For those of us that do take the time to read what cookies we can control, in some instances there are hundreds of options, none of which really seem relevant, so we go ahead with the "recommended".
But what if...?
What if you were compensated for sharing your data?
Not just getting something for free, but actually being rewarded in a way commensurate with the real value your data was providing to whoever was using it.
This might not be too far away, read on...
Do We Really Know How Our Data is Used?
Whilst you have probably seen the pop-ups from Google (and others) telling you to review your privacy settings, the chances are you probably haven't done so. But let's say you did, and you thought the idea of Google knowing where you were in the world at any given time was a bit too much insight to be giving away, so you decided to not use Google Maps.
Nice start, but guess what, you'll need to go deeper to keep your location secret.
Every time you do a Google search, you give away some location data. Every time you upload a photo taken on your phone, Google extracts your location from the hidden "meta-data" that accompanies the photo.
If you have turned that meta-data off, or as in this example, the photo was taken on a regular camera, the place you uploaded the photo can be used to approximate your location. If all that fails, Google can use A.I. to detect the image and compare it to other people who have uploaded images with location data to estimate your location.
Google Knows Where I Am, So What?
Google doesn't actually sell the data it has about you, but it uses it to make the things they do sell (advertising) more valuable. Companies, brands, shops, politicians and other organisations have a very specific profile of the types of people they want to sell things to, so they will pay more to reach people who fit those profiles, and your location is a potentially very valuable parameter.
Combining Data Between Apps
Have you ever wondered why Facebook recommends you connect with a work colleague with whom you have no other connections, other than working together on a project last year?
Well, I'll bet you communicated with them on WhatsApp? So what, you ask, even if you did know WhatsApp was owned by Facebook, I bet you thought the claim of end-to-end encryption secured your privacy on WhatsApp?
It's true the end-to-end encryption, means only you and the recipient(s) can see the content of the message, but Facebook can see that you were talking with your colleague, and that in that group message there were 12 other people ... all of these will become Friend Suggestions at one time or another.
This is just an example (a benign one at that) of how different types of data might be used in ways we don't really expect them to be used.
I could give you other examples from my personal history of how data has been used to make some startling, and in some cases life-changing discoveries - but I'll leave that for a chat over a coffee one day.
IoT Devices and Data Privacy
The article above talks about the absolutely vast amounts of data all of our connected things will generate, but have you ever wondered what insights your Smart Lights, Connected Fridge or Connected Car might be able to divulge?
The data industry is vast and incredibly valuable, and with GDPR the value for consented data is even greater.
Whilst it is far too easy to consider the nefarious use cases of how the big companies use our data, data-sharing has powered a revolution in our lifetimes and can provide quite positive, tangible rewards to the users (aka data owners), if that data is used transparently, fairly and responsibly.
It is this, the transparency, control and fairness, that ecosteer have set their sights on - especially for IoT devices and connected cars.
Using blockchain technology, ecosteer add a layer of control that enables the data owners (e.g. you and me) to give permission for specific organisations to use the data, in ways that we approve, and in a way that we can be rewarded!
How it works - in simple terms
Imagine I buy a fancy new car. When I set the car up, it says MyDataBroker would like to work with me to monetise my data.
MyDataBroker says that by sharing my data I can get reduced car insurance, discounts at fuel stations, perhaps even preferential treatment at traffic lights. This all sounds great, so I say yes!
MyDataBroker then offers my data to other organisations that want to buy it. I am then invited to enter into an agreement with those organisations, and if I want to share my data with them, I agree.
A "virtual-contract" is created between myself and the organisations I have approved, and the data is shared in an encrypted form between myself and the organisation.
I am provided a dashboard that allows me to easily turn off the relationship, and to track the rewards collected as part of the virtual-contract.
Cars, Smart Homes and Charging Stations
The example above is all about connected cars, but since a car is just a special type of IoT device, it can apply much more broadly.
ecosteer's tech is an "overlay" to the systems already in place across the data sharing world, so this could potentially apply to any data that you share; location, behaviour, contacts, communications, preferences, physical traits, biometrics data and more.
ecosteer are actively working to bring their technology platform to market with partners in the connected car and IoT ecosystems, if you are interested in working with them, download their deck using the form below, and get in touch directly.
I'd love to hear from you on this topic.
As a consumer, how much do you value your personal data? Do you think what you get in return from giving up your privacy is enough, or do you think the tech companies should share the true value they get from it? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.