Personal data: can not I sell?
Hi, Habr. Today we want to bring to your attention a translation of one very interesting article, which raises a very controversial topic. It's no secret that all kinds of corporations and social networks constantly collect various information about their users and visitors, including logs of their behavior on the network.
Every our action is constantly recorded, both online and, often, offline. Subsequently, these data are analyzed and used by all interested parties, including for profit. We earn social networks and advertising agencies, but we do not have the slightest benefit from this.
Unfortunately, the Internet does not forget anything. Everything that got into the network will almost certainly remain in it forever. Do not even rely on the “forgetfulness” of social networks and search engines, they do not destroy data, they only accumulate them. Many offline companies distribute personal data of their customers: it’s worth leaving your phone number in some form, as advertising SMS and calls from completely different offices will pour out after a while. Alas, in the modern world there is no place left for such things as confidentiality and elementary rules of decency regarding the distribution of personal information. This has led to the fact that there are more and more supporters of the legislative consolidation of the “right to be forgotten” in the world. This term means the procedure for forcibly removing any information about a person from search results, if these data are no longer relevant and damage the reputation. Imagine that you, for example, went bankrupt and sold your property 15-20 years ago. Since then, things have gotten better for you, you got on your feet and started life from scratch. But to this day, when you enter your name in the search engine, one of the first to receive a message stating that you have gone around the world. Unpleasant, right?
Recently, European politicians have actively joined the fight for the “right to be forgotten”, and now they are beginning to put pressure on Google, demanding to remove some data from the search results. So far, these are isolated cases, but dashing trouble has begun. Perhaps this is one of the first cases in history when the aspirations of politicians and ordinary citizens coincided. In this case, officials are driven by a desire to limit the dissemination of information about their actions, unseemly, from the perspective of potential voters. But the essence is the same - no one wants the unpleasant details of his life to always crawl out on the first page of Google or Yandex.
Domestic lawmakers went the other way. The scandalous law requiring the storage of personal data of Russians exclusively on Russian servers has been received by the public with hostility.
Since someone still makes profit of us, why not pinch off a piece of this financial pie? And the first steps in this direction have already been taken: Citizenme startup has developed an application that installs on a smartphone and collects various information about its owner, which then ... can be sold.
The authors of the project set their long-term goal to create a convenient mechanism for selling information about our own activity directly to those companies that we choose on our own. The tool for collecting and analyzing data is a mobile application that is connected to the owner’s accounts in various social networks. At the same time, the authors of the project, first of all, try to warn people in this way, help them understand what data about them is collected and how then they are used.
Despite the annoying abundance of advertising found on the open spaces of the network, it is it that is the breeding ground for the Internet, thanks to advertising it becomes possible to finance a huge number of online projects. However, a policy of aggressively collecting user information has made people distrustful. And the authors of Citizenme hope that their brainchild will allow users to take control of the process of collecting information about themselves.
How it works
First you need to register in the application all your accounts on social networks. This data will only be stored on the smartphone, not on the Citizenme server. Currently, the application supports Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, other social networks will be added later.
The authors of the project, together with the University of Cambridge, have developed a series of tests that allow you to understand how different social networks analyze your data. For example, an application is able to predict your political preferences in terms of a particular resource. If this is not very useful, then at least it is curious, and allows you to understand why you are shown this or that advertisement.
Now the application is developed only for iOS, but next month the authors plan to release a version for Android. The developers intend to cover all operating networks and, with your consent, collect much more information, including location, statistics from fitness trackers and much more. At a minimum, this will allow you to learn a lot about your digital portrait, which advertisers are targeting. Well, at the same time it will allow you to sell more data about yourself.
In order to build transparent relationships with their users, developers are going to lay out the complete codes of the client application and, possibly, the server one. It is also planned to create an independent non-profit organization that will monitor all changes in the conditions of use of the application. This step will also be aimed at gaining the trust of users who can vote for each innovation.
The project will be financed at the expense of the commission from the profit received by users from the sale of their data. If you do not want to "trade yourself," you will need to pay a subscription.
Probably, you have already asked him yourself once while reading this material: will anyone even want to sell information about themselves? The authors of the project are sure that there will be those who wish. According to the founder of the project, users can be divided into two large groups. The first includes older people who need complete control over information about themselves on the network, and who will be happy to pay for a subscription. The second group is made up of young people who do not attach importance to the dissemination of information about themselves and prefer to make money on it.
Also, developers emphasize that making a profit and tracking their data on the network are not the only uses for their application. For example, you want to buy a car, and by publishing your intention on social networks, you will soon begin to receive promotional offers and information about discounts on cars. And Citizenme will allow you to precisely control such activity and dose information. At the same time, all parties will be satisfied: advertisers will receive accurate verified data about a potential client, and the user will save on the purchase. The ecosystem benefits from all sides.
I must say that Citizenme is not the first attempt of this kind. The non-profit organization Attention Trust, which had already ceased to exist, tried to develop a tool for collecting and selling data back in 2005.. But it seems that this attempt was somewhat ahead of time. Today, smartphones and social networks have become ubiquitous, and the amount of data collected on the Internet has increased many times over. Therefore, the authors of Citizenme are optimistic about the future of their application.
Who knows, maybe whole markets and exchanges will soon appear for independent trading of data about themselves. And if now we are talking about selling and controlling your data published on the network, then the next logical step is to add the “information tracker” function. It is possible that soon such infotrackers will become no less popular than fitness trackers.
However, a number of users will not want to sell anything and will prefer to limit the collection of data about themselves as much as possible. And they will need to offer tools for such protection. Such mechanisms are being developed in Yota Devices within the framework of the so-called concept of a “secure smartphone”. We will talk about this in one of our next publications.
Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.
And how do you feel about the idea of self-selling data about yourself, about your online activity?
- 19.1% Good attitude, you can earn extra money. 116
- 55.2% I feel bad, I don’t want outsiders to know too much about me. 334
- 25.6% I am at a loss, until I myself know how to relate to it. 155