Tag Archives: data

control

Sharing – change in control needed

Sharing today is generally seen as positive, but is also associated with negative aspects around privacy. If the negative aspects are not fixed sharing will slow and cease to the detriment to everyone, but there is a solution that will increase benefits to individuals, businesses and society as a whole IF there is a change in control – from business control to individual control.

Sharing is positive because it creates new services and functions that can help individuals, businesses and society as a whole. Sharing has grown through database marketing in 80s/90s; social media in the mid-00s; wider Software as a Service (SaaS) services since; and will grow exponentially more as individuals embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) – provided the “bad” can be controlled.

The negative is privacy; along with the increased sharing of information has always come concerns with regard to privacy. If we look back to the introduction of what might be termed database marketing in the 80s, increased privacy concerns led to the introduction of check boxes on forms stating whether businesses could use the information for other purposes. Today we have dramatically increased the personal data that is shared, both explicitly and hidden, whether that is social media, other web/SAAS services, monitoring of clicks and the like – and with that has come heightened privacy concerns.

The web related privacy concerns have grown ever more over the last 6 years, with greater numbers of people reducing/changing their social media use (or using more private channels), using Do Not Track, Ad blockers, ’going dark’ and other methods. The concept of the “creepy line” is well embedded now within society. Unconstrained and uncorrected, this will lead to a reduction in sharing, curtailing the positive benefits, and crippling new concepts such as IoT, which depends on greater levels of sharing.

This reduction in sharing leads to a discontinuity with dramatic effects. Not only will the Internet of Things be stillborn, but innovation in providing services based on personal data will stall across all domains (personal communications, commerce, health, etc). This will have a dramatically negative effect on businesses, but also individuals and society as a whole.

A BCG report “The value of our digital identity” states “The quantifiable benefit of personal data applications can reach €1 trillion annually to EU-27 by 2020  – with private and public organisations reaping about a third of the total, and consumers the rest” and then on goes on to say ““BUT much of this potential value will fail to materialise if consumers act to restrict the flow of personal data.”

How do we solve this problem and allow, even encourage, greater sharing? The current trajectory MUST be broken and restarted following a different approach in order for the full promise of personal data, inc. the IoT, to be realised

Change in control

There is a perception that there is so much data that it is currently infeasible for individuals to control it in a meaningful way with the information technologies available today, but our aim must be to provide that much needed control.

There are many suggestions for “personal data stores’ or “personal data lockers” and similar, hosted by third parties, to help individuals gain some control over their data. However, these all suffer from a number of issues: control is still via third party; the stores only hold a subset of data which means there is no overall control, no interoperability between different stores and no single point to access; holders of individual’s personal data (e.g. Facebook et al) often don’t allow access for retention by third parties. At best these systems are a band aid to the control issue and provide limited immediate benefits to individuals, severely limiting take up.

However, there is another approach – one in which the overall architecture is different, but at the same time familiar. By approaching the issue of privacy from an alternate architectural viewpoint, it is our contention that many of the problems are mitigated and contrary to there being an additional cost to privacy, there is in fact the reverse: an additional benefit to everyone involved with the new architecture, individuals, businesses and society alike – and at reduced cost.

The fundamental architectural difference is to return ownership and control of personal data to the individual, rather than the control being held exclusively by business

Personal control – the ultimate solution

Personal control is a simple change in perspective:

– Others don’t own your data – you do.

– Others shouldn’t hold your data – you should hold it yourself

By changing the view, this simple insight solves the privacy issue for individuals and the ability of businesses to access that data through user permissions.  This view, and the understanding that underpins it, has been developed by the company digi.me (formerly SocialSafe) in the UK, in a program of work that was initiated in 2009.

Having first downloaded the digi.me software to your device, the software works by retrieving your data directly to your digi.me library on your device – not touching anything else along the way, not the digi.me servers, not anything. A 100% private library of all your data, fused and normalised – social, financial, utilities, purchases, health, leisure and much more.

The digi.me user interface then allows the user to do more with their data, 100% privately, never losing it, and keeping access forever. It helps them be more engaged, have more fun, and to do more things, better – all locally and immediately, thereby giving that crucial incentive to start the process of regaining control of their data.

So digi.me is your librarian, but also extends to being your postman. The postal service is where digi.me controls a certificate system that allows other apps, web sites, etc. to ask the user for permission to see aspects of their data for a specific and permissioned purpose. If the permission is given by the user based on their perception of the offered value proposition, the digi.me app sends the permissioned portion of the ‘rich data’ to the requesting entity. This is summarised in the diagram below and in more detail in a video at http://digi.me/video

(Note: Whilst this architecture is different in that the individual owns and controls all their data, it was noted above that it was also familiar – that is because it is exactly what businesses do. Businesses hold all their own data – and then use local and remote apps to extract greater value. The individual is like a business with all the data available today – it should therefore not be a surprise that the solution is a familiar one!)

Conclusion

So by holding all their own data, individuals regain control and can do more with their data themselves and importantly can decide who they share that data with, what elements are shared, when, for what purpose – in this way the sharing economy can overcome the discontinuity posited above.

(Note: In my previous post I noted that we should define Privacy in the digital age as the “Ability to control your personal data, including who you share it with, when and for what purpose”. By owning your data you are then in control of your own privacy.)

data retention

Data Retention: Why is it such a challenging issue?

You may have read recently in the news about the Netherlands Data Protection law being scrapped as it breaches human rights legislation.  This isn’t the first time that a country has had challenges with data retention legislation or with the clash between data retention and human rights.

Data retention is a complex issue.  On the one hand data retention is a good thing as it ensures that historic data is captured forever and can be looked back over.  This means that historic data can be used for learning and building upon.  On the other hand that data could be used for all sorts of other uses.  It could be used for evidence in court cases, it could be used to fight crime and for all sorts of other purposes.

The use of data is the issue that adds the complexity to data retention. Collecting and retaining data for 1 year – 10 years isn’t a technical challenge or even a business challenge.  It is a moral one. Who should own that data, where should it be stored and who should have access to it?

Data Ownership

Who should own the data about you? Should it be you, your government, your service providers, your infrastructure providers or an independent third party? Each of these options have their benefits and drawbacks. On a personal level we all like to think that we own our data however on a broader spectrum we currently give our data to third parties such as our phone providers, our governments and even our social network providers.

It is our basic human right to decide who we provide our information to. What we don’t have control over is how long those providers have access to that information and how they then use that information about us. This is where the challenges get complicated.

Historically we have controlled our data but our providers have owned it. The trend now is that we are beginning to understand what that means and we no longer all want our data to be owned, managed and controlled by third parties to use as they please.

We will start to see data being seen as more important than ever and new innovative approaches to us owning and controlling our personal data and the access to that data.

Data Storage

When we provide our data to third parties such as our government or our service providers we have no idea where or how that data may be used. For that matter we don’t know where that data is being stored or shared unless someone contacts us to let us know.  This again is a challenge.

Where should our data be stored. Should it be under our control which countries and companies have access to our personal data?  How would that affect how our data was used and would it be in our best interest for it to be stored by us in a location of our choosing?

Data Access

We have already touched upon data access a little but when we are looking at personal data we can’t help but talk about the access to that data. When third parties control our data they have the ability to share that data with whomever they choose. (subject to regulation of course) When we talk about this in terms of governments each government in each country has their own regulations on what can and can’t be done with personal data. Just compare the UK and the US for example. The regulations in these areas are vastly different.

So how does this affect us?  On the simplest level data access is one of the key causes of cold callers to your phone.  However data access also provides the ability to personalize advertising and online experiences. It also provides that ability to purchase things like road tax online here in the UK. There are benefits to having your personal data available to third parties.  There are also down sides. If you don’t know how that data is being used or if it is used for malicious purposes it causes significant problems. Phishing scams online are just one example of this.

Access to our data is essential but who has access and how is key.  So when you read headlines around data retention and privacy it is worth understanding how and who has access to your data.

The future is changing constantly and it will be interesting to see where the regulations end up in Europe and the rest of the world.

How do you see data retention changing in the future and how important is historic data really?

facebook-390860_640

Facebook Photo Bug Scare

It has recently been announced across tech news sites that this week a bug has been discovered which allowed a user to delete entire photo albums worth of images with a single API call.  The album didn’t even need to belong to the user in question!

The bug itself was found in the mobile version of the Facebook Graph API and has now been fixed thanks to an honest researcher and the quick work of the Facebook development team.  It did however demonstrate how vulnerable our personal data is to such attacks and once again reminds us of the importance of having our own copies of our data.  Our photographs are precious to us and no one would like to lose them to a bug like this.

Thankfully on this occasion the bug was found by a reputable person and not someone who was looking to damage the Facebook network.  Next time we might not be so fortunate. Either way make sure you have a copy of your social media data by downloading Digi Me today!

friday

Friday Fun: Password Management

If you are anything like me then you have passwords for everything from banking to logging into your social media accounts. So many passwords to remember or in my case forget! But what happens when you find an issue or alerted to an issue?

Have you ever seen Facebook come up with an alert stating that there has been a suspicious login on your account and that you need to change your password with immediate effect? I certainly have and it rattled me somewhat.  It made me realise how much I value my social media content.  Until then I didn’t enable the two step authentication on Facebook, but now I do.  And you know what it’s well worth enabling.

I don’t know about you but these days as a result of that little scare on Facebook I now treat my social media data and services differently.  I treat them more like banking services. I also make sure that anything that I put on social media I would be happy for people to see in public.  After all you never know what data breaches may occur.  It is worth being wary of third parties holding and storing your data.

Whilst you have probably already got all your new years resolutions sorted for this year you may want to consider adding one to your list.  Take security more seriously especially when it comes to your personal social media data.  Consider using unique strong passwords and two factor authentication on your social media data and remember to back up your social data regularly.

social media

Backing up your social data

A few weeks ago I read an article about the importance of data backups.  It really got me thinking about data and the importance of the data that we share across our social media accounts.

The article that I was reading was all about backing up your laptop or computer and ensuring that the data that was being backed up was secure.  Now I know many of us are terrible at doing regular backups of our personal machines but what about our online data, that information that we share with our friends and family?  What would happen if suddenly we accidentally deleted our account or it got suspended for some bizarre reason.

I would hate to think about a scenario where those precious shared images and videos went missing or were lost forever because I hadn’t backed them up.  My main reason for backing up my laptop is to ensure that I never lose my all important files and photographs.  I can’t remember a time when I haven’t backed up content and these days I do tend to back up most of my images to “the cloud” as well as to a local hard drive.  After all you never quite know when or where you will need access to your data.

Over the years I’ve used a range of backup services and only once have I had to revert back to my backups and that was when my laptop completely failed after getting rather wet. (I learnt after that to keep my laptop in a waterproof bag!) I spent a small fortune getting the data back and a new machine exactly how I wanted it.

It is amazing how many people just don’t think to do backups and it is so simple to do for your online data as well. Most of us think that it is just big companies that have things to lose if they lose their data but these days we all have data that we want to share and store forever.

Most of that data captured contains moments, memories and events.  These are all things that we just want to keep and look back on over time. Backing up your online social media data is simple just download Digi Me (formerly SocialSafe) and back up your online data regularly for free.

data

Digi Me Predictions for 2015

2015 is in full flow and now is a great time to predict the key trends for the year ahead. Here are a few of our predictions..

  • Personal data ownership will be debated.
  • You will own your data and create permissions/ terms of use to companies rather than agreeing to their policies.
  • Personal data privacy will become more important to people.
  • New services and tools will become available to help you capture and manage your personal data.
  • Individuals will have a better understanding of who has access and stores their data.

What personal data privacy trends are you spotting for the year ahead? Leave a comment or share your predictions using #pdppredictions

friday

Friday Fun: Searching Your Social Data

It’s that time of the week! It’s Friday and that means it’s time for some Friday fun!  This Friday we are going to have fun with our social data and search!

With Digi.Me (formerly SocialSafe) you can search through all your social media content to find pretty much anything that you have shared with your friends, family and colleagues.  Your challenge for this week is to give search a try and see if you can find a social media update that has the word Christmas in it!

FridayFun

Remember to share your finds with us on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #FridayFun.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Poll: Why do you care about your data?

We thought it was about time that we asked you why you care about your data and to what extent you care.  If you have a spare couple of minutes please fill out our quick poll and help to show what really matters when it comes to your data!

Bonus: Did you see our article yesterday about Facebook’s updated terms and policy?  It’s well worth a read.

Facebook Privacy Basics

Facebook Terms & Policy Update – What does it mean for your data?

If you have a Facebook account you may have noticed a little icon pop up in the top right of your account making you aware about the latest Facebook terms and policy changes.  Most people tend to ignore these small changes but it is always worth noting how recent changes affect who owns your data.

The latest changes on Facebook attempt to make it clearer who has access to your data and how.  The big changes are mainly in the area of tracking data on your mobile device.  So if you are a mobile user your usage statistics including GPS data will now be stored against your Facebook account.  Also included in this recent update is a log of websites you have visited whilst you are logged into Facebook.  This information is collected and used to help advertisers target advertisements that are more relevant to your interests.  Whilst this information has been collected in the past it hasn’t been as clear what it was being used for.

If you don’t want Facebook to know where you have been and when, the advice online is to use the web version of Facebook rather than the Facebook app.  This way you keep your location data private when you are out and about.

What can we do to help you manage your data?

SocialSafe which is transitioning to Digi.Me can help you manage and store your social media content including your Facebook data. At the end of the day your data belongs to you and as such we provide you with the tools to take a copy of your data from Facebook (along with many other data sources) and store it locally so that you have your data on your computer. This means that if there is an outage on Facebook or you decide that you no longer wish to use a social media provider you can download a copy of your data including your images and status updates.  You no longer have to lose those all important moments that you once shared with friends, family and colleagues.  Give SocialSafe a try today by clicking on the link below. It’s free and puts you in control of your data! (Plus there is so much more you can do with your data when you have it all to yourself!)

Try SocialSafe

SocialSafe Aligns With Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Vision For Personal Data

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, has spoken out about the issue of data ownership. An article this week in The Guardian talks of how the father of the world wide web sees a future in which the individual is the one who owns their personal data – not the big companies – and a future in which the individual can use that data for their own benefit.

Well they say great minds think alike, and we’re thrilled that this is precisely what we are actively working towards  here at SocialSafe – individuals aggregating their personal data from a variety of different sources to create a vastly superior data set that is more useful than the sum of its parts.  Today, SocialSafe is a social media organiser enabling users to download and aggregate a complete record of all their interactions in one safe place allowing them to view, search, export, organise it and more.

Looking towards the near future, SocialSafe will extend to all other personal data sets (e.g. shopping, banking, utilities, health, quantified self etc.) and users will be able to permission access others to their data for service, reward or convenience. The user has total control over what they choose to download and where they store it – we as a company never hold any of our users’ data, and they’ll always be able to access it.

We’ve been saying publicly for some time that we feel big data is wrong for the individual, and we’re immensely humbled to have our intentions and vision vindicated by the words of someone so influential in not only the tech industry, but the world as a whole. If you’ve not read Alex Hern’s article, we’d highly recommend that you do so. It may just change the way you think about personal data and who is benefiting from you being you.