The Forrester Muse
JUL 1, 2013 10:27am ET

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That’s Big Data Peeking into Your Living Room

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I had the privilege of watching the recent NSA surveillance story unfold from my hotel room in London this June. Seeing the story from a decidedly non-American viewpoint got me thinking a bit differently about the implications for our society.

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Comments (1)
The issues you raise around personal data privacy have been on the lips of many for years. But programs for opting in and out and reliance on governmental protection, as you highlight, may not be the (only) direction this all goes. Given the increasing volume and sources of personal data, we'd be spending our days opting in and out. I believe there is a third possible outcome, where the citizenry are more involved in proactively managing their own data and controlling who gets it, even selling it. Although, we could be spending our days doing that too.

Re: managing our own data, the trajectory is towards "Self-Tracking," "Life Management Platforms," "Personal Data Stores" and "Personal Clouds," depending on who you talk to. One of the key movements in regard to personal data is the "Quantified Self". These "self-trackers" cannot get enough of measuring their physical performance, mostly from a wellness and health monitoring perspective. This movement is tied to the growing market for wearable body sensors, "internet-of-things" and soon even digestible sensors.

The thing about sensor data is you don't have to do anything to capture it. It's all automatically done for you. The question now is. Will advertisers, et al get their hands on it to sell us stuff...or worse. For example, determine elgibility for things like insurance coverage.

The problem is advertisers (mostly) et al can easily triangulate the life out of us. By analyzing all the Big Data from all the servers on the planet, they can easily unmask a person...and everything about him/her.

The other movement is what I call the "selfarazzi." They are the early adopters of so-called personal data banks or vaults and lockers. Examples include ID3 Mustard Seed framework, Personal.com, Mydex and The Locker Project.

Built around a trusted data framework, these online software services (will) enable individuals to load and store whatever personal data behind lock and key. You can even elect who to share it with.

Some selfarazzi actually want money or something in kind for their personal data, which is an interesting idea. If data brokers, for example like Acxiom, can make so much from selling our personal data, then why shouldn't we just sell it ourselves on a personal data exchange? (Although, using data broker pricing, appears basic personal info only worth pennies. Nevertheless, people would likely need to be incentivized to manage and share their personal data.) Examples to check out are Enliken and MoneyForMyData.com.

Lastly, there are the data privacy and disclosure advocates. Basically, they are battling lobbyists for the companies, like Google and Facebook, that want to stop "oppressive" data regulation.

The data regulation wave largely began in the EU and is working its way over the Pond. Meanwhile, the FTC is now investigating nine of the largest data brokers for their personal data harvesting methods.

At the risk of appearing self-serving, I highly recommend this blog www.GoDoxYourself.com

This is a "beta" blog that is angling to bring the discussion to the citizenry and pull together all the different discussions in one place. Particularly check out, the sidebar info, the FYI and news archives and, of course, the feature posts.

Posted by Peter P | Tuesday, July 02 2013 at 10:13AM ET
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