A few weeks ago, I wrote about privacy, data, and walled gardens.
Continuing that conversation, where I discussed the question surrounding personal data and who it belonged to – is it yours? Is it Facebook’s? – here’s a firm that seeks to return control of personal data back to the person the data is about.
Personal‘s services go beyond just locking your data away, and include a suite of tools to help you share various parts of your personal data stream with different people or groups. Seems like an interesting way to make information about your kids available to the babysitter but not your banker and financial information available to the banker and not the babysitter.
I don’t see a clear explanation of how they might help you control the data that Facebook gathers about your habits and behavior on their site, or that Google gathers as you surf the web.
It seems like that would be a much taller order. Gathering it would be easy. But controlling access seems almost impossible. Is I said in the earlier post, if you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. (Still looking for a source on that. Anyone?)
And if you make it impossible for Facebook or Google to gather the information they want, I would imagine they’d say you were in violation of their terms of agreement and either boot you or limit what you had access to.
Still, this is a move in the right direction and I’m curious to see how people react to having control of their data. Will an industry of middlemen develop to broker deals between individuals (or groups) and the companies who want that data?
My guess is that the adoption path will be blazed by convenience services – never again having to fill out another form in a doctor’s office, for example – before moving up the chain to things like registering for more targeted advertising that factors behavior beyond web surfing habits. Bonus points if they can track when you’ve actually purchased something. (Read: Google, stop with the ads for televisions. I bought it 3 weeks ago! Not buying another.)