I have been thinking lately about what it takes to have corporations start seriously thinking about data ownership from the point of view of the people who provide the information.
What would it take for an entity, whose business model mainly depends on the self-proclaimed rule - "we store your data, so we own your data", to give up some control (and revenue)?
The idea that the owners of the "means of production" would claim that they own "all raw material given to them" is ridiculous in any other field. However, it is acceptable in the IT industry - a discussion I will have in another blog.
Back to the main thought - How to get businesses to play fair with the people who give them data?
Last week, Gartner hinted to the possible answer and our possible future.
In their special report examining the trends in security and risk, Gartner predicted that 90 percent of organizations will have personal data in IT systems they don't own or control.
This prediction hints to a future where corporations are losing money and control of their revenue stream - data. It is only a matter of time before corporations figure out that when they provide data to other companies that provide a service to them, the service provider should share the revenue they get from using the gifting company's data.
So, I am optimistic that corporations will see the value of creating a data ownership ecosystem - as a matter of self-interest and survival.
I am sure they will market it as being for the benefit of the regular Web user.
However, I am less hopeful that the claimed benefit of this ecosystem (and revised viewpoints on data ownership) will actually see the pocket of the ordinary Web user.
The majority of privacy frameworks and thinking around the issues of privacy across the globe can be attributed or traced back to the guidelines produced by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).
The OECD issued a report titled "Recommendations of the Council Concerning Guidelines Governing the Protection of Privacy and Trans-Border Flows of Personal Data" (around 1980) that sought to create a comprehensive data protection system throughout Europe. This report became the foundation of the European Union's Data Protection Directive and many other privacy legislation and approaches across the world.
The OECD's report recommended that seven principles be employed for protecting personal data:
I have been thinking for the past few days about these principles, and the status quo in the technology industry.
Take for example, the principle of Purpose. The current best practice is for companies to gather lots of user data and find creative, and sometimes useful, ways to utilize this data. Typical examples include:
However, it clearly represents best practices in the IT industry today - "Collect as much user data as possible. Claim it as ours. Find ways to monetize it".
Will it ever be possible to adhere to this privacy principle when current business practice operates contrary to it? Probably not.
Will it be possible to change the current business models? I do not know.
What about the adherence to other privacy principles? Do they face a similar uphill battle?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Dr Tyrone Grandison
Executive. Technologist. Change Agent. Computer Scientist. Data Nerd. Privacy and Security Geek.