How we will earn our living…

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).

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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!

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