The Facebook data scandal with Cambridge Analytica has resulted in an unexpected boost for privacy advocates. Not only is the public more aware of how their data may be used (or misused), there are efforts afoot to empower consumers to better protect their personal data.
One effort is the recently announced IOVO (Internet of Value Omniledger) which is a DAG (digital acyclic graph- the next generation blockchain) that enables consumers to reclaim their data, secure it and better regulate its use. It is obviously an idea whose time has come, now with special urgency created by the Cambridge Analytical misuse. IOVO is based in Poland but is taking a global approach to data recapture-ment and security.
The panel at the recent IOVO introduction consisted of three very compelling participants; Jeffrey Wernick, an early investor in bitcoin and a self-described crypto currency entrepreneur, Brittany Kaiser, currently Co-Founder of the Digital Asset Trade Association and formerly Business Development Director, Cambridge Analytica and Krzysztof Gagacki, Founder and CEO, IOVO.
The State of Personal Data
Kaiser noted that today, data companies are flourishing and will continue to do so in the future, despite the recent controversies. “We have given away our information in almost every action in our digital lives,” she noted. “Our data has been harvested, monetized, licensed and sold for advertiser targeting. We did not originally sign up for that. Our data should belong to us as individuals and individuals have been exploited,” she concluded.
Unfortunately when we agree to terms and conditions on a site, we also agree to allow our data to be collected throughout our digital journey. This has resulted in the creation of the world’s most powerful companies, such as Google and Facebook, to capture billions of dollars in value off our individual data by creating a new asset class and business model based on big data. However, if an individual does not agree to share their data, it can still be collected and shared through connections who have agreed to share their data.
“Data is not the most vital and valuable asset in the world. Data is the new oil and has even surpassed oil as value,” Kaiser stated. As companies continue to collect data on a massive scale and create algorithms in combination with other datasets, the business of data will continue to flourish in the future.’’
Changing the Business Model
The unfettered Wild West usage of personal data has got the change. The panelists agreed that it is time to create a permission based structure where individuals have control of their personal data and allow companies to use it on a carefully curated and controlled basis with some form of compensation. But where do we start? Is this a self-regulated effort by companies or will it require government regulations?
Wernick described his 4P data manifesto; Data is our Property, only used with Permission. It must be Portable and it represents our Personhood. There are currently “Data rapist platforms,” he exclaimed. Is it individual property or it is everybody's property? If it belongs to everybody then all should have all access to everyone’s data. “But we don't have access to others property. Platforms are curators,” he noted. Data should belong to the individual and require our consent to use. Unfortunately “data is frequently used in unknown ways and in ways that is not good for us. Often it is used against us. It is perverse.”
Power to the People
“I hope that as we expand the potential and possibilities in a blockchain world we can disrupt institution” business models that capture and sell personal data, Wernick noted and added that the concept of universal income may be facilitated in a world where individuals can sell their own data. “Every human being has value and they are not getting compensated for it,” he concluded.
And the data collected is not just from the digital journey. There is also a plethora of offline data sets and big data aggregators that merge all of these disparate data sets together. Think Info group, Magellan, Equifax and Experian for example. “You can purchase offline ground truth data,” noted Kaiser. Where do you vacation, what are your credit scores, your behavioral patterns, your political data and what media you use. “Data scientists can figure out how you voted even if at ground truth is not available,” she added.
The solution is, according to Gagacki is to “Make data not just a legal right but also a core value of the internet economy.” An omniledger can provide infrastructure for all companies who want to benefit from an individual’s data ownership. Since the data adds value to a company he believes that “We are actual employees of these companies and are not being compensated. It is time to compensate all of the users.” He disagrees with the Facebook economic model. “We need platforms where you can share your value and be compensated for that. Imagine what that means,” he mused, “Everyone could feed themselves off the value of what they create every day.”
“Owning your data is your ultimate freedom,” stated Gagacki. “Large companies have their economic value based on users. We don't have rights in sharing our data and data is the most valuable asset in the digital economy. If we don't stop it now the future generation will have no rights.”
This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com