Defining privacy in the digital age – myths, pitfalls and positives

Privacy online has multiple meanings for different platforms and businesses – but what about us here at digi.me?

So much personal information about each of us is scattered about the web, traded, sold on and held in multiple places that we can neither access nor delete, that we can have no realistic expectation of full online privacy.

There can be no absolutes where one form of every kind of data that relates to an individual is owned and controlled by them without exception, and so online privacy is fluid when set against the norms of the offline world.

The last decade has also seen personal perceptions of privacy change and evolve dramatically with the explosion in online services and social networks on which many of us regularly post information which would previously have been considered for personal consumption only.

So how does all of this inform what we are and how we operate?

Well, digi.me deliberately enables a more private world, with more personal data under the control of each individual user, enabling them to use it as they wish, for direct benefits or insights.

But is it a privacy solution? We are often perceived as this but it’s not our primary aim as our strengths and business vision lie around the benefits of data gathering and controlled exchange.

The data still exists where it originated, but its combination with other streams and sources in one private digi.me library controlled by the user creates a body of information that is immensely more powerful than the sum of the parts scattered before this aggregation, as well as being completely private within the app itself.

This, then, is the true value of what we do, unlocking the potential of personal data, by bringing it together and creating greater value with associated complete security, with data only being exchanged or shared on the user’s terms, for their benefit.

But the constituent parts are not private in their original locations, and nor is there any way of making them be so – multiple copies of data are an expectation in the online world not shared by its offline cousin, which deals in physical entities of which often only one exists – a key reason why there can be confusion comparing the two.

Essentially, online privacy remains a fluid force, dependent in great part on the expectations of both parties when information is created and shared. What it means in any given context differs on nuances, with a broad variety of different forms available including private browsing, private sharing and private chat.

So privacy online becomes less about how each of us wants to define it, and more about how the services and platforms we use tell us they are defining it in that particular instance. We can then choose whether or not that is reasonable, and whether or not we, the guardians of our own privacy, want to partake.

Often, as seen with some of the bigger platforms, these terms and definitions will change over time – so part of taking back control of our online privacy is always being aware and as knowledgeable as we can be about what we are sharing, and with whom, and for how long.

There is no quick privacy fix, but one of the aims of digi.me going forward is to return ever more privacy to its users and enable an increasingly private world.

We are already 100% private in our operation, as we never see, touch or hold the data that users collect for their personal libraries. And we will soon enable individuals to exchange selected data with apps/businesses on a direct one to one permissioned basis.

Better for businesses as they get 100% accurate, fully permissioned data, as time goes on more and more businesses will go direct in this way, rather than scraping thinner, less accurate data from around the sides of our searches and transactions as is the predominant model now. A model that is increasingly working for neither the consumers nor businesses, which are increasingly at war over the methods used.

As more and more businesses go direct to individuals, there will be less and less money and demand for the ‘data scalpers’ and slowly their business model will become less economic and will shrink away – leaving the direct, privacy-enabling system as the major route for exchange of data for value.

Thus digi.me will enable a more private world where each user can choose how much data, if any, they are happy to share.

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