Let's conquer back our privacy to boost innovation and freedom!
Respect of privacy and transparency over the use of personal data is not too popular topic among Silicon Valley firms, the current biggest holders of personal data. The recent controversy and lobbying actions led against the California state bill “the Right to Know Act” perfectly illustrates this. But it also illustrates the growing desire from governments to bring more transparency around personal data.
From the industry perspective, more constraints around privacy would hurt innovation, but would it? It seems more to me that it would be a constraint on their big data plans they are not willing to accept. What about small Data then? What if conquering back our privacy could be a way to create great value for customers AND companies?
At Cozy, we strongly believe that more transparency and user control over their personal data would have incredibly positive consequences. But don’t take my words for granted, let me provide you with some arguments. In our series of articles on privacy I focused on fact that demonstrate the limit of the current approach, in this article I describe what a web more respectful of privacy would look like.
1 - Marketing: let’s benefit from our personal data!
We are offered “better” targeted advertisement and free services as a counterpart for giving our privacy away. Not only it is small counterpart considering the value of the information we provide but we cannot benefit from this information the way we want.
What if we were in control of our personal data and could decide with whom we decide to share what and for which counterpart? That’s precisely what the trend towards Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) is trying to achieve. According to researchers, the benefits for customers but also the industry in general could be huge.
Giving users back their data in a place they control, like your cozy cloud for instance :), would break the current monopolies on personal data. You would be able to negotiate directly with the vendor discounts in exchange for valuable feedback or usage information. You would know exactly what would be shared and could stop at any time. A great diversity of small and medium businesses would develop to help you do smarter purchase decisions or achieve better health leveraging your personal data. Actually such services could be achieved without even the need to sharing your data, because in an architecture like Cozy apps are installed on your server where your data are.
With VRM, we could move from a revealed preference economy, ie targeted ads based on your browsing history or profile that are not always relevant, towards an intention economy, where you inform the market of what you are looking for and let it make you offers that match your needs.
If you are not too familiar with VRM and data disclosures, all this might seem far to you, but this is becoming reality with experimentations such as Smart disclosure in the U.S., MiData in the U.K. And MesInfos in France. The legal framework is evolving and many companies are embracing this way, including Cozy that is providing the platform to the MesInfos project.
2 - Employment: let’s take back control of our on-line presence.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to control easily all of this information and not to be worried by the arm prejudicial content could cause?
Many are taking this issue very seriously and bringing about change such as the Europe Vs Facebook initiative taking legal actions to force Facebook comply with European regulations. Services like Garlik and Naimz help you manage your e-reputation while Privowny let you track and control every personal bits you put on-line.
3 - Governments: let’s put back government transparency on the agenda
In the real world nobody would accept that the police breaks into their house when they are away and without a warrant to notify them. Yet it is exactly what is currently going on when governments request personal information disclosures from service providers without notifying users.
If we were in control of our personal data and had ways to protect it with encryption for instance, they wouldn’t have other choice than to issue a warrant to access it. The FreedomBox is a great initiative to protect the Freedom of thought and information of the most oppressed especially in totalitarian regime.
4 - Neutrality: If Freedom = Privacy and Freedom = Neutrality, then Privacy = Neutrality right?!
The Internet in its early days was an open garden where everyone could join and interact with using standard technology. One’s identity was his/her domain name and he/she had control on it. Since then, the Internet as not fundamentally changed from a technical perspective, but the layers that developed above it changed everything.
Nowadays, the great majority of people interact on Internet through walled garden social networks and proprietary cloud silos. This services act like filters that serve their best interests, they create personal data monopolies and prevent alternatives to emerge.
By getting back our personal data, we would be able to challenge these monopolies with viable alternatives for more diversity of services. We would know what information a service access and therefore understand better the filter it operates. By using personal clouds like Cozy, we would have our own on-line presence and identity, that means visibility, control and no risk to be banned from all your services like this poor folk was.