Individual Data Control and Certification Schemes Is Coming Up

News. The era of data ethics is upon us—and only those with the highest standards will win over global customers, says an article in SAP’s magasine The D!gitalist  who is also listing new models for data management once consumers and cititzens understand the value of their data.

With privacy comes responsibility. If you want to control you own data, you will also be more responsible, but will customers and citizens be able to handle it? There are many attempts in Europe and the US to change how data is managed and monetized. In stead of one company holding your data, the idea is that you gain control over you data. If any of the ideas, listed in the D!igitalists take off, we’ll experience a massive change in the data economy.

Personal data brokers. Think financial adviser but for personal data.

Self-sovereign identity. Individuals can store and share—or not—as they like.

Personal data marketplace. Personal data marketplaces aim to sell data for cash (or cryptocurrency, in some cases) by managing the sales with buyers.

Data labor unions. The recent book Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society claims that data is a form of labor and suggests the creation of data labor unions that will enable fair compensation for data.

Personal data storage. Solid, a new decentralized, open-source web platform is among many my data startups, where individuals can store and control personal info. Another example is CozyCloud.

Whether we end up with full individual data control or not, data ethics is relevant for everybody dealing with personal. Done right, data ethics isn’t anti-competitive but is a competitive advantage, says Pernille Tranberg, co-founder of Copenhagen-based Dataethics.eu.

Certification Schemes
But we should beware of “ethics washing” and “privacy washing,” she says. Think back to the early days of environmental sustainability when there were companies that took serious steps to improve their ecological impact. However, there were also plenty of companies accused of “green washing,” not backing up the talk with actions. This is a real danger, and it’s already happening, says Tranberg.

The answer is developing third-party certification and verification schemes like the ones for the environmental movement. “A lot of companies say, ‘We really anonymize data, we can’t go back and identify you,’” says Tranberg. “That’s very cool if they really do it, but they need to have somebody to check that independently.”

Companies are also recognizing the value in independent certifications for data ethics and privacy, says Tranberg. “I already see some companies that are asking for it.”

She thinks it’s likely we’ll start out with many small certification schemes before they mature and grow into larger organizations and governments need to become involved. One example is EuroPrise’s European Privacy Seal, a privacy certification for IT products. The (surprise) German organization was started in 2009 as an EU-funded project and is now a global certification.

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