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Data for the people — not against them

I woke up this morning and while drinking a coffee & reading through the latest economist I thought: crazy times we live in. If people tell me privacy is hard in the world of Google, Facebook etc & the current scandal I refer to those 6 principals from the ‚Data for the people‘:

  1. The right to access your data
  2. The right to inspect data refineries (eg facebook, google)
  3. The right to amend data
  4. The right to blur your data
  5. The right to experiment with the refineries
  6. The right to port your data

Solving privacy is very important to me personally as I believe that we can build great product & put a lot of my time into things that can be used for free in exchange for my data. But only if we can agree to some basic rules, such as those quoted above.

Stories like the one Facebook is going through now can make people lose trust in those digital companies which would ultimately hurt the whole digital industry. I hope Facebook will take the right steps to build a platform that follows those rules.

I read the book a few month ago and when reading through those news articles about Facebook this morning I got reminded of it again.

Andreas Weigend experienced how Information can be used to do harm to humans — and requested his own data set from the Stasi (the eastern German state police) after the Wall separating east & western Germany was taken down.

In his book he draws a optimistic picture on how we can have both, the right for privacy and companies with a business model to sell our data.

I really recommend this book as he worked in the industry on that problem for 20+ years already (which is kind of since the beginning). Also I hope that we learn from our history and apply those learnings to the new businesses we‘re building. It might not seem critical in Germany now if someone sells your data, but in authoritarian regimes or Germany no more than 28 years ago this could have been a matter of live & death.

Facebook has 2.2 billion monthly active users. The world is home to 7.6 billion human beings of which 3.2 billion can access the internet. They’re responsible to protect the data of their users. There are outlines on how to do so described in many books & papers as data to the people and sophisticated research done. Compared to other problems they try to solve, e.g. brining internet to the other half of the world population the problem of ensuring that our data is save with them seems like a rather easy one to solve.

Please do so Mr. Zuckerberg, I’d be up for borrowing you my copy of ‘data to the people’. I really enjoy using your products and hope that you will do the right steps so I can continue to use those in the future :)