Tag Archives: Personal Information Economy

Digi.me founder joins Kantara Initiative board to further global personal data vision

Julian Ranger, the founder and executive chairman of digi.me, has been invited to join the board of global identity experts Kantara Initiative.

As the personal data economy continues to grow apace, companies industry-wide are looking to Kantara to forge the best possible community framework to encourage sustained innovation and growth for all.

With its recent £5.3m Series A raise digi.me, which will also join the organisation, and Julian are expertly placed to add to and develop the innovation already present.

Kantara has made a name for itself as a hub for inventors, thinkers and innovators thanks to its can-do attitude and proven ability to construct solutions to complex data and privacy problems. This includes the Consent Receipt specification, designed to turn on its head the traditional business and consumer relationship and put the user back in control.

Digi.me also has a proven record in finding innovative technical solutions to personal data and privacy problems, and will imminently release a consented sharing Permission Access platform, which will allow users to gather together all their health and financial details and share them, if they wish, with businesses in exchange for personalised benefits.

Julian, the creator of STASYS’ iSMART process, the de facto standard for military communications interoperability worldwide, said: “Ecosystems grow faster when systems can interoperate and businesses are more likely to be used by other businesses if their solutions do not lock users in.

“As one of the most well funded personal data start-ups strongly committed to interoperability, which Kantara has a strong track record in, we are happy to do so on behalf of the whole ecosystem and not just digi.me. After all as the ecosystem grows, so will opportunities for us.”

“We are delighted to welcome Julian and digi.me on board,” said Allan Foster, president, Kantara Initiative.  “Julian’s expertise and experience will prove invaluable to Kantara’s mission to develop innovative initiatives to drive the digital identity transformation.  Personal data is an important element of this transformation.”

Colin Wallis, executive director, Kantara Initiative, added, “Everyone in the personal data arena knows that serious innovation is needed – and quickly.  We need to continue moving forward toward standards development, specifications and taxonomies – the fuel that will drive this new community. We look forward to Julian and digi.me helping make that happen.”

Julian will join a truly global board, with members from the US, Canada and Japan, over half of which reside outside the US.


Who am I? #iamdata – a new digi.me campaign

As human beings, we are all the sum of our experiences – but online we are defined by the personal data we scatter as we go about our lives.

At digi.me, we believe that your data is yours, that it is powerful and that it is valuable.

And we want to help you take back control, by enabling you to get your personal data from all over the web, see it in ways you couldn’t before and then (soon) share it if you wish.

Download digi.me now to get started!


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.

Why the Daily Mail is completely wrong on personalised data

The tone of the headline sets the scene for the rest of the determinedly single focus article – evil holiday firms are “tracking your computer, scouring your old bookings..and even checking the births marriages and deaths!”

And for what purpose is this “spying” being done? So they can hike the price of your holiday, apparently, through personalised pricing based on knowing when, where and how you like to travel.

Now, businesses exist to make money, and will leverage opportunities they see – it’s naive to think otherwise. But holiday prices in this country are already hiked hugely during school and public holidays, for example, because data shows that more people travel then and supply and demands means they are forced to accept higher prices. So for the Mail to froth at the mouth about this seems a little horse and stable door.

In fact what the story is actually about is travel firms attempting to find out more about travellers through existing data to build a picture of what they might do in the future. So identifying who’s a last-minute panic holiday shopper, for eg, or who frequently books flights at rush hour times between major cities.

And, yes, the ultimate purpose behind these is likely to be personalised offers and advertising – not necessarily based on pricing. In fact, many of the firms in the article say that’s not the case (although they would, wouldn’t they?) – but it is certainly the reality that with multiple airlines or holiday companies offering similar products, over-priced holidays or flights are likely to be turned down, and potential customers lost.

The Mail, though, sees this as another example of Big Brother in our lives, and it comes hot on the heels of an article a few weeks ago that was similarly dismissive and scare-mongering about banks building up pyschological profiles of customers to offer targeted services.

But is it really so bad? I would argue not. The problem is less with the gathering of the data – personalised service, after all, is the Holy Grail of most businesses across all industries, because the more they know about us the more likely we are to buy.

No, personalisation can be good – when done well, when done with consent.

And this is the real problem, the one that the Mail doesn’t touch on at all because it’s too busy being outraged by the end product and not the process.

As Ctrl-Shift summarised in an excellent blog about the banking article: “The sad fact is that today’s standard model of customer data collection and use is almost perfectly designed to trigger these creepy feelings.

“This model is based on organisations collecting data about you, going through some process which you don’t understand behind your back, to do things to you. It can’t help but create a sense among customers that they are being watched and intruded upon, where they can’t trust the other party’s motives.”

As well as the underhand and non-permissioned way of collecting data like this, the end product is far from satisfactory – thin, not detailed and often 30-50 per cent incorrect.

So, really, it’s not working at all for users – who dislike the creepy, sneaky nature of web tracking, so are using ad blocking technology in their hundreds of millions – nor businesses, which need accurate data to fully understand and thus serve their customers.

The current data exchange model is broken, but a new one is emerging – a trust-based sharing economy with users in control of their own personal data and able to share it on their terms, for their benefit, only with those companies they want to deal with.

A tipping point will come, and soon, where this is the only future for personal data. And digi.me will be at the forefront with our Permissioned Access model, which will let users do just that, initially with their health and financial information.

But until then, the Mail is wrong. Personalised data is not the problem – it has the ability to enrich, deepen  and simplify each of our lives and experiences. The problem is how that data is acquired – but the storms of change are brewing, and we should all be ready to embrace them when they come.





EU GDPR – full details of what it means for you and your personal data

Stricter data privacy rules will come in across the EU in 2018 after MEPs finally agreed them – but what does that mean exactly for you and your private information?

The GDPR, which will apply across the EU and is aimed at creating a high, uniform level of data protection fit for the digital age, includes a ‘right to be forgotten’ as well as the right to know when your personal data has been hacked and replaces rules dating back to 1995 when the internet was still in its infancy.

The new rules are backed up by harsh sanctions including fines of a up to 4pc of a company’s global turnover if they don’t comply. So what are the key elements to be aware of?

  • A right to be forgotten – an individual right to have data deleted from companies when you no longer want them to have it, or because consent was given for something that no longer applies. This is distinct from the 3rd party Right to be Forgotten, where individuals can request that outdated or undesirable information about them be removed from search engines, (read more about the difference here) and the provisions are clear that this is about improving personal privacy, not restricting the freedom of the press or erasing past events. Historical and scientific research are also safeguarded. The only caveat is that where “the retention of the data is necessary for the performance of a contract or for compliance with a legal obligation”, such as on medical records, for eg, it can be kept for as long as necessary.
  • Clear and affirmative consent will be needed before private data is processed and this will require an “active step” such as ticking a box. The Parliament is clear that “silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity will thus not constitute consent. In future, it should also be as easy for a person to withdraw consent as to give it.”
  • Right to be informed in plain and clear language – MEPs have insisted that the new rules will put an end to “small print” privacy policies and that information should be given in clear and plain language before any data is collected.
  • Right to know if your data has been hacked – companies and organisations will have to notify their national data authority as soon as possible so that users can take appropriate measures to protect themselves and their data.
  • A right to data portability will make it easier for individuals to transmit personal data between service providers, such as to a new email provider without losing contacts and emails, and this information must be provided in a way that is easy to reuse.
  • Clear limits on the use of profiling – new limits where automated processing of personal data is used to “analyse or predict a person’s performance at work, economic situation, location, health, preferences, reliability or behaviour”, including creditworthiness. Under the new regulation, profiling would generally only be allowed with the consent of the person concerned, where permitted by law or when needed to pursue a contract and should comprise a human element, including an expectation of the decision to be reached. MEPs also insisted that profiling should not lead to discrimination or be based solely on sensitive data, such as  ethnic origin, political opinions, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Easier access to personal data: Individuals will have more information on how their data is processed and this information should be available in a clear and understandable way.
  • Special protection for children – Children below a certain age (for member states to each define between 13 and 16) will need parental consent to open an account on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. (This is already the case in most EU countries). They will also have a “clearer right to be forgotten” in case they are put under pressure to share their personal data without fully realising the consequences.
  • Privacy as the new norm –  data privacy by design and default are now essential elements of the EU data protection rules, and data protection safeguards will be built into products and services from the earliest stage of development, while privacy-friendly default settings will be the norm on social networks or mobile apps. In future, companies will have to design defaults and products so that as little personal data as possible is collected and processed.

    The new laws have been four years in the making and received the highest number of amendments (3,999) ever tabled in the European Parliament.

    Due to UK and Ireland’s special status regarding justice and home affairs legislation, the directive’s provisions will only apply in these countries to a limited extent, while Denmark will be able to decide within six months after the final adoption of the directive whether it wants to implement it in its national law.

digi.me as an agent in Doc Searls’ Giant Zero

As the internet subsumes the concepts of distance and time, using our personal agency to create control over our own world becomes ever more important.

Doc Searls, internet visionary and digi.me advisor, identifies the lack of distance online that we are used to in the physical world as a Giant Zero and is clear that we need to understand the ramifications of this new environment fully before we can begin to make the most of it.

In a post on his Harvard blog, he identifies nine key elements needed to create this new world successfully, of which two – privacy and personal agency – are particularly pertinent to digi.me.

He contends – and we agree – that distance has always been used to give “some measure of privacy” in the physical world – but that on the Giant Zero, the world with no distance, it is “ridiculously easy for anyone or anything to spy our browsings and emailings”.

As we have already examined in our blog on the concept of digital privacy, digi.me offers a more private world by allowing users to take back control of their information, in an enhanced form as it is all in one place, and then do what they wish with all that data.

But it is the section concerning agency, where digi.me comes most into its own.

As Doc said: “The original meaning of agency (derived from the Latin word agere, meaning “to do”), is the power to act with full effect in the world. We lost a lot of that when Industry won the Industrial Revolution. We still lose a little bit every time we click “accept” to one-sided terms the other party can change and we can’t.

“We also lose power every time we acquiesce to marketers who call us “assets” they “target,” “capture,” “acquire,” “manage,” “control” and “lock in” as if we were slaves or cattle. In The Giant Zero, however, we can come to the market as equals, in full control of our data and able to bring far more intelligence to the market’s table than companies can ever get through data gathered by surveillance and fed into guesswork mills that: a) stupidly assume that we are always buying something and b) still guess wrong at rates that round to 100% of the time.

“All we need to do is prove that free customers are more valuable than captive ones — to the whole economy. Which we can if we build our own tools for both independence and engagement.”

digi.me is one of those tool he mentions, bringing agency to each and every user, by putting them back in control of their data, giving them the tools to unlock it and then letting them decide what they want to do with it and where they are happy for it to go.

Crucially, digi.me will become an even greater force for agency later this year when our Permissioned Access model arrives, which will allow users to share or exchange their data directly with businesses in return for personalised benefits.

And as businesses benefit as well from the 100 per cent accurate data they are able to see and use in this way, it is a truly a win-win situation for all.

So all hail the Giant Zero – a model for a future which digi.me is actively working towards.

2016 will be a ‘transformational’ year for personal data

The coming 12 months will see dramatic shifts in the way we view and hold our personal data because the current model is broken.

While everything we do – from our tastes, experiences and preferences upwards – is data that makes up our whole, the current trading model is broken, with consumers up in arms about every-increasing tracking and an innovation gap that means no-one can exploit all the opportunities that data today offers us.

Giving a rousing keynote to the Personal Information Economy conference in London, our founder and chairman Julian Ranger said: “The present situation now isn’t working for individuals and it’s actually not working for businesses either.

“I will tell you that 2016 will be a transformational year. There are businesses we are working with that who are going to be launching new products in the personal information economy and they will make a big difference this year.

“It’s happening now and people are working on it.”

But why it is happening now?

  1. Innovation – businesses can’t exploit all the opportunities that personal data offers with the current model because they can’t access it. So the model needs changing.
  2. Increased consumer frustration with companies that seem to know more about us than they should, or ads following us round the web, which has led over 250plus million deploying ad-blockers in what’s being called the biggest boycott in history.
  3. Upcoming privacy legislation from the EU, and others, which will require explicit permission, meaning lots of the old models will be blocked.

Julian said: “So what does the man or woman in the street think? Companies all want a piece or me, but whether I like it or not, they take it. But that’s ok, it’s just a piece. They can swap or trade it, but they don’t have a full picture of me. Legislation prevents them doing more.

“But what if I do want to stop them doing more? These ad-blocker things look good, and they speed up my web browsing as well. Great, I’ll have one of those.

“Maybe the less those companies know about me the better – that’s a journey that a lot of people have gone on, it’s not a good journey and it’s not actually true, it’s not actually the case.”

“Because surely there’s a lot of cases where the more a company knows about me, the better – the more I can do. It can offer me the products  and services that I want – by knowing about me, third parties  can better understand what I like, what I need and when I need it – more  of what I want and less of what I don’t want.”

He said that, if we’re honest, we all want to be sold to, but it’s the “dodgy” way that businesses are getting data around the side – and our perception of that – that is spoiling things and “absolutely has to change”.

He added: “And it’s not working for businesses,  because the data they get today is thin and low-grade stuff, you don’t actually have all the data you need about me to do what you want.

“We need a better way – and the answer is to shift control back to the individual. But it’s not just about control, it’s about owning your data, having that data back, so that you have it, bringing it all together – because after all, who do I trust with all my life? Me.”

“If I hold it, I get more than control – I can see my life, I can do things with that data myself, I can decide then who gets to benefit from my data – you give me the right value proposition and I’ll do it.”

He said that in order to bring the different parts of our lives together without walls, and share different parts, together, to businesses, we all need to own our own data. Data that is unimaginable to businesses now in terms of its width, depth and richness – “rich data, not big data”.

He stressed that digi.me is “allowing you to have your own software that goes and get your data direct and brings it down to you so that you own it, on your own infrastructure. That’s real power, when you are the only person that has all your data.

“When you start sharing that way, the quality of data goes up by orders of magnitude. Costs goes down too  far better data, far lower cost – everyone is happy.”

Because we are the sum of our data, having that in one place immediately offers greater levels of interest and insight to each of us – but add in businesses on top and you’ve got a new model for personal data sharing that really works.

SocialSafe To Speak At Personal Information Economy 2014

Next week SocialSafe will be exhibiting at The Personal Information Economy 2014 event in London, where we’ll be talking to people about how they can take control on their information, and why the individual should be the focal point for personal data aggregation.

Ctrl-Shift, a recognised authority in the emerging personal information economy, is running the Personal Information Economy 2014 event on March 20th in central London. Attracting senior executives from leading global businesses, demonstrations from entrepreneurs, and a list of world class speakers this event is designed to be the forum for organisations interested in the opportunities arising from the personal information economy including the opportunity to innovate, add value and cut costs.

As trusted Personal information management is fast becoming a critical component of business strategy for consumer facing brands, organisations and their suppliers we are delighted to be involved in an event which explores this important topic, and look forward to contributing our views on personal data management. SocialSafe will be participating in the Entrepreneurs’ Showcase, and our Founder & Chairman Julian Ranger will bring his expertise to the event, speaking in the session entitled “New revenue streams and growth from innovation.”

As well as Julian speaking at the event, Rory Donnelly – VP Global Sales & Marketing – will also be attending, so if you are at the event please stop by our stand and have a chat with either of them.

There is plenty more information about the event and the line-up of speakers, as well as the event programme, and this can be found on the Personal Information Economy 2014 website. There is also a FAQ about the event. We hope to see you next Thursday!