A. We’ll be buying groceries from online supermarkets with personal data. We’ll be trading our emotions, reactions and preferences on the personal data stock market.

B. We’ll have full autonomy over our data via a programmatic rights based system and signal to devices collecting information about us what’s allowed, what isn’t and how our data can be used.

What better timing than to begin the first day of the year with a time-travel into the future! Explore what role data plays and how you’d like technology to work for you.

In June 2019, I released my Mozilla Fellowship project called Our Data Future where I developed four scenarios on how the world might look like in 10 years from now. Would buying and selling data lead us to a better future? Do we want governments to step in and rein in the power of big tech? Would data rights offer more protection and both individual as well as collective well-being? …

Image for post
Image for post
Our Data Future, project and illustrations licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

It’s 2030. You’re living in your ideal world. How does it look like? What role does data play in this future?

This is an open invitation to go on a journey and explore four speculative scenarios about what the world might look like, depending on the way we choose to govern our relationship with data.

Our Data Future is meant to spark meaningful discussions around the possibilities that lay ahead for our digital future and the potential implications. For example, in Scenario 1, we see a future where data is treated like property. In Scenario 2, we’re being paid for data as labour, earning our monthly wage for the data we generate. In Scenario 3, we store data in national funds, managed by both citizens and governments. …

Image for post
Image for post
Pawel Kuczynski — Propaganda

When the news broke that Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of Facebook users’ personal data — and then used that information to influence elections — the fallout was swift. The UK-based data mining firm closed its doors, Facebook faced global scrutiny, and people around the world learned how easily democratic elections could be hacked by abusing voters’ personal data.

In the time since the scandal broke, you would think that democracies in Europe would have used all the tools at their disposal — including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — to prevent similar wrongdoings in the future.

But the Regulation offers some “flexibilities” for how it is integrated into national law, allowing Member States to introduce some of their own rules. In some cases, rather than protecting individuals’ rights, these exceptions limit freedom of expression, erode privacy, and abet the spread of disinformation. This lack of uniformity in applying GDPR rules could lead to differences in the level of protection of personal data within Member States, including in the context of elections. …


Valentina Pavel

Legal adviser and digital rights advocate. Core @ApTI_ro member and 2018–2019 Mozilla Fellow at Privacy International

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store