Data Privacy has turned out to be the most controversial topic discussed in meetings or conferences I’ve attended. Data Privacy is something intimate and personal, and as a result, it’s something we want to see protected by law — at least in Europe. A core element of these discussions is the data we share. In Data Protection law, there are two different classes of data to protect: “Personal data” and “Sensitive Data”. Personal data is exactly what it says — data about a person (e.g. name, address, date of birth…) Sensitive data is a little more tricky, as it depends on its use context. A lab result with a high HbA1c (diabetes) is not necessarily sensitive — unless considered in the context of a diagnosis and a personal health record. With swync we don’t touch any sensitive data, so I will stop here.
My Personal Data is shared in all sorts of places. Some examples: On every website I registered since 1994, my personal data is stored on some server. My current location and shipping address is stored in countless cookies on the different devices I use. It’s impossible NOT to leave a personal data trail while navigating our digital world — unless you are a very skilled IT freak. But it’s not only about online and Internet. There are countless places where my data is stored in offline CRM systems: my plumber, my hair dresser, my electrician… they all have my personal data stored in their billing systems and use this data for Christmas greetings (yay!) and bills (boo).
My point is: in most cases I have absolutely no problem that my data is stored in these systems. I want Amazon to have the right shipping address and I want my plumber to have my mobile number — this is absolutely OK for me! My only problem is that I don’t have a clue who else has my data. I totally lost control over it in the last few years.
I’m not under the illusion that this data will stay where I first left it. It is very easy to copy data in the digital age and people make money by selling my data — no doubt about that. Every time I get another Viagra SPAM email I wonder how they found me. My network guys in the company I used to work for told me that there are far more incoming SPAM emails they have to block than normal emails. — In short: something is wrong and we can only solve it if we re-claim control over our personal data.
I wanted to explain how we’ll earn our living with swync but I diverted into data privacy… sorry about that, but first I needed to make the point that we’ve lost control over our digital identity. In the next post, I‘ll talk about the money thing — I promise!
Originally published at www.swync.me.