With his call for action to internet users to demand their data from Google and Facebook, Tim Berners-Lee unleashed a controversial discussion about the ownership and use of online data. Who do you think owns your data?
In an interview with the Guardian, MIT professor and ‘father of the world wide web’ Tim Berners-Lee stated that internet users need to start using their personal data on the Web.
One reason why this is so difficult is that most data is held by private web companies, making it hard to access. Users lack the tools to make this personal and potentially very useful information available.
Who really owns all the data we produce daily as digitally engaged citizens? By using a closed network like Facebook for instance, aren’t we indirectly accepting that the company owns it?
As an advocate of the open internet, Berner believes that it is the obligation of companies to provide users with easy access to their data and make it more easily recoverable.
Since these issues are also highly relevant for companies operating in the trust and online identity space, I asked TrustCloud founder and CEO Xin Chung about his stance on data ownership:
You are a citizen of the internet. You deserve to control the good reputation you’ve earned online. Corporations should not withhold information that their users rightfully own.
As the share of the population that is online in North America and Europe continues to grow towards almost 80 %, so are the numbers of transactions and volumes of data. Sooner or later, protecting data privacy will be an issue that concerns everyone. Chung’s vision to appraoch this problem is to help peopletake control of their data and build an interoperable system of trust for the Web:
We want to empower internet users with up to date and portable trust indicators they can use anywhere.
As another great Guardian article by Aleks Krotoski brings up, “Big Data offers undeniable opportunities, but requires a delicate balance between the right to knowledge and the right of the individual. Privacy norms will demand that new systems of trust be built into technology design.”
Since many online companies are already using your data for their purposes (for targeted advertisting for instance), Chung looked for a way to turn this around and empower individuals to put this same data to work for themselves. In the attempt to meet this need, he and his founding team developed a system that lets you aggregate all the online data you produce into a portable reputation.
By: Berrie Pelser
Posted: December 7, 2012, 10:09 am
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