Tag Archives: data ownership

Why privacy is a right… not a luxury

Privacy should be a right we can all take for granted – but the problem is it is being taken away from us without our consent.

Will new trading models that put data back in the hands of the individual, who can then share or exchange it at will, make privacy the preserve of only those who have sufficient income to make a choice over this, rather than those whose circumstances compel them to to take advantage of what’s on offer, whether or not that’s what they would choose?

That’s the premise in this otherwise sensible article on the growth of the sharing economy, which ponders:  “But paying consumers to give up their privacy may not be particularly freeing for lower-income tech users. The practice essentially puts a premium on privacy: If you want to keep your data, and stay anonymous, you have to give up cash and deals. If this model plays out, a private smart home will be more expensive than one that reports back on its users.”

The article, which also mentions an AT&T deal in the US, where not having your search and browsing history recorded costs more each month, makes some good points, and that is one interpretation of the facts.

But the bald and biggest fact being overlooked here is that nothing is free in this world – users of so-called ‘free’ newspaper or gaming sites just don’t realise they are paying for them with their data!

Ultimately, privacy is a right that we should all automatically have and which nobody should have to pay for.

But yet while we make choices all the time in every area of our lives, at the moment we don’t have a choice about what happens to our data – information about us – that is taken from us multiple times a day without permission and then used as a crude (and often irritating) targeting tool.

Sometimes we do actively sign this right of ours away, but through ‘I agree’ buttons and long-winded privacy policies designed to confuse and bore us and which companies know the vast majority of us will just quickly scan, at most, to get to the service they offer.

Putting the individual back in control, at their centre of their connected world in what we are calling the Internet of Me, will automatically enable a more private world.

Getting a discount or deal simply for sharing that data, on your terms, with who you choose, will be a benefit that will appeal to all, and simply another life choice to make.

So, actually, if privacy could be seen as a luxury, it’s a luxury around actually having a choice, as opposed to being forced to give up data as we all are at the moment, whether we know it or not. Or even like it or not.

But the bottom line is that privacy is a right for all – and here at digi.me we’re doing everything we can to enable a world in which that’s known and accepted universally.

The Internet of Things’ ‘dirty little secret’ and your personal data

The Internet of Things (IoT) has always been billed as building a more connected world – but what if it’s just a massive personal data harvesting and monetising exercise?

That’s the gist of a slew of articles recently, following Google’s Nest’s decision to shutter the Resolv smart home hub company it bought in 2014, abruptly cutting off customers and their apps.

At one level, of course, this simply undermines one of the key IoT elements that has been overlooked in the rush to have a house that responds to your needs without even asking – that without individual data ownership, it can all be taken away in an instant. Not so convenient and connected then, is it?

But, that (important) point aside, all these devices work on data. Data about you, data about your home, data about what you do in your home.Huge, huge amounts of data.

Which means, as this Medium post points out: “The opportunities are delicious for bloated internet companies: now a software company could know how warm your home is, what times of day are noisy, whether you have a pet, when you turn on your lights or if you listen to music while having sex.

“Smart devices are sold as a way to improve your life — and in many ways, they do to an extent — but it also means those gadgets are incredible troves of data that could eventually turn into Software-as-a-Service money makers.”

This point is also made in this CIO article interview on Nest’s woes, which states: “The primary issue facing the industry today is not technology, it’s the business models that companies such as Nest use in attempts to claim complete control over their users’ data… Consumers don’t want just one connected smart device and consumers are never going to buy all of their smart devices from the same supplier…The problem is that everybody wants to own the consumer, they want to own the relationship and they want all the data.”

This goes hand-in-hand with another  important point: “The problem with the Internet of Things is that the hardware is only one aspect. The makers need to keep servers running to support them, keep APIs up to date, keep security up to date and, well, pay employees.”

Over time, this all adds up – and it eventually adds up to more than you paid for the device, particularly as many of the first connected devices like thermostats and fridges are long-lasting by design, and so will be in your house for years or even decades.

So you then become a loss-making client – and an obvious way to recoup that loss will be to sell on the data that is being created day in, day out, by you just living in your home, then fed back to the company you bought from.

There’s the option to charge a monthly fee, too, of course or cut you off – but based on current user behaviour around social media platforms, for example, giving up user data is often seen as an acceptable compromise for a good, free service.

And that’s the frightening thing. We should prioritise our data, the information that makes up the big picture and the detail of all our lives, above so much else, but the IoT is largely founded on companies banking we won’t.

That’s why it has a place in this world, but the key tech revolution needs to be to an Internet of Me – the re-centering of data around the individual, for them to do what they want with it and not for companies to sell on, and on, and on as a commodity.

We’re doing all we can to make that happen – spread the word and join us!

 

Privacy attitudes harden as consumers wake up

All the signs are that mass consumer awareness of the issues surrounding data privacy is finally reaching a tipping point that will force an economic consensus for action.

Already this year we have seen the re-writing of the Safe Harbour agreement, agreement for the GDPR in Europe (also affecting those who trade with us), the stand-off between Apple and the FBI over encryption and the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK.

Governments and businesses know more about us than ever – and consumers are fighting back. Over 200 million people now employ ad-blocking software, fed up with intrusive trackers that steal their data without their consent and affect their page loading speeds as well as taking up excessive bandwidth.

So it’s of little surprise that OpenXchange’s Consumer Openness Index 2016 shows a hardening of attitudes in the past 12 months.

The headline statistic is that people care about privacy more than ever before, with 80% of the 3,000 questioned believing everyone has a fundamental right to privacy.

The Internet-savvy populations questioned in the US, UK and Germany also said they are more likely to stop using many types of companies if news of a privacy scandal emerged, while those who believe that companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google should never have the right to share personal data is now up to 57%.

“Governments and corporations are gathering unfathomable amounts of information about the online lives of every individual,” said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange. “As a result, it’s no surprise that across the world, people increasingly fear their personal data is exposed. Worse than that, recent studies have shown that people feel powerless to protect their data. But there is hope: there are signs that citizens believe that compromising their right to privacy can no longer be tolerated. They are asking for greater transparency in the services they use and the politicians they elect, and searching for solutions to protect themselves.”

Consumers are also demanding the ability to protect their data, as the majority (88%) would be interested in at least one encryption-related service, such as a one-click button that encrypts outgoing email or encryption as a standard feature of applications they use.

All of which is good news for the good ship privacy and all who believe in and sail in her.

This survey, and many others before it, reinforces the belief that underpins everything we do here at digi.me, that the current system is broken beyond repair and needs radical transformation. Neither users nor businesses get what they need from the current advertising model, and both sides are trading salvos in a war that shows every sign of escalating without the prospect of resolution.

We believe the only solution is a new way forward, a connected world centred on the individual in control of their own data, that businesses can then approach directly for access for rich data in return for something the user wants, in the form of an offer or personalised service.

This is what digi.me will be when our Permissioned Access model comes in later this year, and this move to the Internet of Me is so important that we are sponsoring an industry-wide forum to find the best solutions for all – you and the businesses you deal with; whoever, whatever and wherever they may be.

The future is bright, the future is you – and we look forward to helping and guiding you on that journey.

 

 

Defining ownership and control in a digital world

Used online, terms such as ownership and control have slightly more fluid connotations than their physical counterparts – but we can still define their context and meaning.

At digi.me, we unlock the power of personal data for users by enabling them to gather and collate information from multiple services, platforms and places in one single library that they own and control.

This library is the only place all this information exists together, allowing instant greater personal insight even before users begin to exchange or share slices of data, on their terms, for convenience, service or reward.

So our users own this data, this library, this collection – but does the data still exist in the original places it was found? Yes it does, but each individual now has a vastly more useful, insightful and comprehensive body of data than ever before, gathered together in a unique form, that they can access at will and exchange or share as wanted, thus controlling as well as owning it.

We’ve occasionally been asked how digi.me can really be returning data ownership to the individual if another copy, which they have no control over, exists, but this shows a limited understanding of the realities of the online world.

More importantly, it would imply ownership could only ever mean that just one copy of something existed, over which you had 100% control that could not be subverted – and this simply does not apply digitally in the same way it does physically.

Let’s give some examples. In the physical world, if I own a car it is mine completely (ignoring any financing), I control it completely, and it is clear and undeniable to others that this is the case.

So far so simple, yes? But even offline, things can be cloudier than they first appear, as simply having something tangible I can hold in my hand does not necessarily confer complete ownership or control.

If I am sent a bank statement, for example, then I own that copy of my financial data and what happens to it- but of course the bank still has all that same data too.

When we move online, it soon becomes clear that concepts of ownership and control have, by necessity and by evolution, become even more fluid.

So if I take a picture of something or someone, I own that image. It’s physically mine, stored on my camera and phone, and I can, crime or loss aside, control who sees it or accesses it.

But if I post it online, to Facebook or Twitter, for example, then things become more complicated. I still own the original photo, but lose control of what happens to the copy that I have shared, in terms of what people can say about it and what they do with it.

Yet my original ownership of the master document, if you will, remains unchanged even despite the presence of potentially multiple other versions.

Applying this principle to our app and the data it enables users to connect to it, it is clear that when you have your data in digi.me, then you own that data.

Other copies of the slices of data that make up the whole still exist, but you own your unique, extended and enhanced version – and where possible and where you are allowed by T&Cs, can seek to delete or, in the future, ask companies to forget these other versions, when the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws come in in 2018.

So what of the original copies of these many slices of data? What happens to them? Well, nothing is the answer. They remain where they were, being of limited or little use to both the individual who created them, or businesses hoping to gain insight into their users.

The bottom line is that our app, uniquely and appealingly, allows users to create and compile an increasingly all-compassing picture of the data from across their lives. One that will continue to evolve, develop and deepen the more they add to it, and one which they will always own and control.

Happy #DataPrivacyDay – have 75% off digi.me to celebrate!

As personal data privacy pioneers, we’re delighted to be supporting the international initiative to promote better privacy security and awareness – and are offering 75% off our premium product to help you protect your data for less.

Here at digi.me, your personal data privacy is hugely important to us and, while we free your data to do amazing things for your benefit, we never see, touch or hold any of your personal information. So that’s about as private as you can get.

We know online privacy, as we explored in our recent blog, can be a tricky concept to pin down, but think it’s great that awareness campaigns like this are helping ever greater numbers of people get on top of what information they share with whom.

When even the likes of Google are getting in on the act, it’s clear that data privacy is an issue that arouses a great deal of interest. And we’re delighted that a subject so close to our hearts is finally starting to get the attention it deserves.

So we hope your data has a great day. And that it’s as private as you want it to be.

 

 

New EU GDPR regulations: the four key things you need to know

Sweeping new data protection rules will be approved for the EU soon – but what does it actually mean for you and me?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is expected to be ratified by the EU within weeks, replaces a patchwork of data protection laws across the various member states, and is expected to become law within two years.

It is wide-ranging and thorough, returning a lot more power back to individuals over what personal data is collected, what it can be used for and what happens when an individual wants to remove consent, and will apply to all businesses not just based in the EU, but also those dealing with EU citizens.

Very much in tune with digi.me’s vision to unlock the power of personal data by returning control and ownership to those who create that data in the first place, the four main strands that affect individuals are privacy by design, explicit permission, data portability and the right to forget – here’s a quick guide to each:

  1. Privacy by design means that when you download an app or sign up for a service, you should not be asked for data that is not directly needed for the purposes of interacting with that app or service. We should no longer have services asking for capabilities they don’t need, which will immediately restrict data leakage.
  2. Explicit permission means just that – when you give permission to an app or website to have or use your details in one specific way, they can’t use it for any other purpose or, crucially, sell it on to third parties.
  3. Data portability means you will have the right to ask for any data that a company has about you, which should be returned in a machine-readable form so that you can reuse it. This could be through the site’s API, although some may make try to make this tricky for users. One of digi.me’s key differentiators is accessing all these APIs and other interfaces and normalising data from a variety of sources, and we will continue to make life easier for all in this way
  4. Giving someone your data doesn’t mean they will always have access to it – under the GDPR you will be able to revoke permissions and ask companies or platforms to forget it. The two caveats to this are a) that this won’t apply to some information that there is a legal requirement to keep, for example medical records on which a medical decision has been made and b) that it is also a personal right to forget, and not to be confused with the controversy around Google and third parties being told not to link to stories and information about individuals that still exist online.

digi.me founder and chairman Julian Ranger said that the first two measures alone will put each and every individual in a much stronger position, with companies only able to ask for relevant data and then use that information for a specific purpose.

He added that businesses that rely heavily on the sale or trade of third party data are going to see their current business model destroyed and will have to abide by the new rules to get the data they need or want – but crucially directly, not around the side of individuals as now.

He said: “Apps and platforms such as digi.me, which put individuals back in control of their collected data but allow businesses to approach them for permission to use it, will become the new gold standard, as the rights of EU citizens over their data trump the desire of businesses to gather as much as they can.

“Each and every individual will be in a stronger position, while the data businesses do get will be richer and deeper in every way, and thus more useful, although there is no doubt this will be a sea change for many.

“With digi.me, if you own and control your own data, then businesses that request it in an exchange for an offer or service will be fully compliant with all these best practices.

“Fundamentally, with this new legislation, everyone is treating everyone else like proper grown-up adults and it stimulates innovation – good for individuals and businesses alike.”

Oversight of the new legislation, when passed, will be by the existing channels at country and EU level, including the Information Commissioner in the UK, with significant fines for companies found not to be complying.

50% off digi.me: #4 (of 12) reasons to love us – our fab personalised widgets!

Widgets. Great name, great tool – and one which adds layers of fun and surprises to digi.me’s peerless secure personal data gathering, search and flashback features by offering personalised insights that delight and inform. And because you can customise them yourself, the possibilities are pretty much endless!

We’ve already given you multiple reasons why digi.me is a must-have, never-to-be-missed, buy-now-or-be-sorry personal data and memory – based Christmas gift par excellence – and our all-new singing and dancing widgets are pretty much the icing on the (Christmas, naturally) cake – bite-sized, custom insights about YOUR data, YOUR friends and YOUR followers,  parcelled up into cute little packages that greet you when you open up the app’s home page.

widgets

Aren’t they lovely? We automatically create a few for you to get you started (or the app does, we never, ever see your data so couldn’t do this for you even if we wanted too, but luckily our digi.me developers are some of the best in the business), and then it’s over to you to do, well, what you want!

Just hit the ‘create widget’ button and it’s a simple three-step process. Choose from 13 types of widget, including latest and oldest photos and posts, most influential followers, most popular day, remember this?, total comments and likes and things you favourited.

Then, choose which linked social media account you want this widget to draw its information from – choose one or select all – and a date range.

And then bingo! You new widget will magically appear next to others already there, and start cycling  through the pictures or posts it has pulled in, meaning your home page is constantly in motion with interesting things about you. Nice! And if (when!) you see something great you want to remember in more detail, simply click the picture and up it pops full size!

If you change your mind or want to shake things up – no problem! Simply hit the round minus button in the top right hand corner of the page, and a delete button will overlay all widgets, making switching things up very, very easy.

We really do spoil you – and with 50% off for the whole of December, what’s stopping you? Download now!

 

Announcing the Internet of Me: an ideas forum for a technology revolution

digi.me, the personal data software company, has launched the Internet of Me forum , an initiative that aims to gather and publish information and opinion related to technologies, policies, industries and companies aiming to put people at the centre of their connected lives and back in control of their data.

With each of us creating ever-greater amounts of data about ourselves each and every day, what happens to that data and – crucially – who controls it has never been more important.

Wearable tech and connected devices will continue to grow and multiply, adding ease and convenience to our lives and combining to offer us tremendous benefit and insight, especially when brought together to form a complete picture of our lives.

This rich data store can – and should be – a catalyst for innovation and growth, but digi.me believes that the only way to realise the full potential of the personal data economy is for a fundamental shift in control over this information back to the individual.

This is where the Internet of Me comes in – the natural next step that puts individuals at the centre of their connected world, in control of their data, enabling them to see it, use it and share it on their terms for convenience, services and reward.

Digi.me’s social media app, which has already been used by over 300,000 people in 140 countries, lets users gather information from all their social media accounts and hold that data on their hard drive or in their personal cloud, ready to enjoy and explore as they choose. Digi.me is the enabler in this, and does not see or have access to any personal data at any stage of the process.

Next year, our app will offer users the chance to combine other personal information streams such as health and financial data. Users, if they choose, will then be able to give permission to companies to access it in exchange for personalised benefits. This unique approach that combines both privacy of information and exchange of personal data will enable a better and deeper relationship between users and companies for the benefit of both.

Apps and services such as digi.me will increase trust between those who create the data and those who wish to use it, as well as naturally resolving most of the current issues surrounding data privacy and security online.

But while we are excited to be a key component of this new technological advance, we know the Internet of Me is so much more than just us, which is why we are sponsoring a forum to explore and promote the different approaches and solutions surrounding personal data in the hopes of greater benefits and associated technological advances for all.

In doing so, we want to bring other voices into the conversation You can find our thoughts so far here – www.Internetofme.info – and we welcome all comments, suggestions and discussion.

As the Internet of Things looks to change how we interact with the world around us, the Internet of Me will put us at the very centre and in control of our connected life.

We look forward to exploring and developing its potential with you.

*digi.me is a sponsor of the Personal Information Economy 2015 event in London on December 8 and our founder Julian Ranger will be giving a keynote speech. Do come and see our stand if you’re there, or follow hot topics and subjects of interest on the event hashtag #pie2015.

Sell your personal data? We’ve got a better idea…

A recent report showing that people value their personal data at around £3,000 interested us here at digi.me HQ because we believe the information that makes up you and your life experiences is worth much more than just a number.

The survey of 1,000 people by digital storage company Western Digital found they put an average value of £3, 241 on their personal data.

Men valued it slightly more highly, at £4,174 compared to £3,109 for women and were more willing to sell it, with only 23pc calling it ‘priceless’ against 31pc of the women.

But what if you could do more with your data than just sell it or not? What if you could make it work for you – and even benefit wider society at the same time?

That, in a nutshell, is the digi.me vision – we unlock the power of your personal data, but then leave it up to you how you wield that power.

Imagine you had all of your data, covering specific fields such as health (not just your GP records but wearables too, such as how much you exercise and how much sleep you get), financials and purchases gathered together in one place that you and you alone could access, unless you granted permission.

You could, of course, just keep it for yourself – browse it, explore it, enjoy it – and gain new insights from having everything about you collected together. Nothing wrong with that.

But you could also choose to do something with it – share it with a company whose products or services you were interested in, for example, in exchange for a personalised offer or discount.

Suddenly, your data is working a lot harder and only in a good way. You get something you want, at a better price or with something extra thrown in, and in return the retailer gets to view 100pc solid and reliable data, which helps them hone and refine their offering and business. Quick and convenient, mutually pleasing and desirable.

Now imagine all your friends and neighbours are doing this as well – suddenly, everyone is benefiting from their data, including businesses and services who suddenly have lots of fully accurate rich data to work with, instead of the slices of fragmented and unreliable data currently gleaned from tracking ads and the like.

If enough people get involved, it could change the future direction of products and services, not to mention the face of public and individual sector innovation, as new avenues become possible and indeed desirable if it can be proved there is a need for them.

Right there, your data could be part of a social revolution, and you’re benefiting at the same time.

So yes, data can have a price – and you’re able to sell it if you wish. But isn’t there so much more value to be had elsewhere if we use or imaginations and apps like digi.me?

*To read more about our mission to unlock personal data and enable the personal data economy, see https://get.digi.me/

Millions of Facebook users give up privacy to play words quiz

Over 17 million people have willingly (and in most cases unthinkingly) handed over huge amounts of their personal data to a company they know very little about in exchange for a graphic of their most-used words in status updates.

I know, right? It is, as Comparitech pointed out, essentially a privacy nightmare, but Facebook users can’t seem to get enough of it at the moment.

The quiz app, by Vonvon.me, works out what your most used words were in status updates this year, and presents them as a word cloud which you are then encouraged to share on your timeline. I’ve seen plenty on mine, and I bet you have too.

So far so straightforward – but how does the quiz app get that information? Yep, by mining the information you have posted/logged with the site.

According to Comparitech, that includes disclosing your:

  • Name, profile picture, age, sex, birthday, and other public info
  • Entire friend list
  • Everything you’ve ever posted on your timeline
  • All of your photos and photos you’re tagged in
  • Education history
  • Hometown and current city
  • Everything you’ve ever liked
  • IP address
  • Info about the device you’re using including browser and language

But it gets worse than that. The terms and conditions (that you have to sign up to when you authorise it to access your Facebook account, but which most people likely never read fully), allow Vonvon.me, among other things, to keep using non-identifying data for as long as they want, store it where they want, and sell it on to any third parties.

And all you got in return was a word cloud. Vonvon is not unusual in this, we’ve talked before about how most apps ask for far more permissions than they actually need to operate, and this is just one that’s gone viral.

But, as ever, it always pays to take care about what and who you hand your data over to. By all means take part in the Facebook quizzes and the like – but just take care about what they’re asking for in return.

Because your personal data is you, it has value and companies such as digi.me are working on ways that you can share it, on your own terms, for tangible benefits. Basically, it’s worth a lot more to you than a word cloud, so protect it!