Each of us generates a significant amount of data each day during the normal course of our activities. Our phones and computers track our movement and actions, while our browsers and websites track our online activities. As we’ve seen, some of the largest tech companies can know more about us and our lives than our families and those closest to us.
As of now, that data is owned by the people who collect it, and they’re allowed to do anything they want with it. They’ve sold it, used it to target us with advertisements, and have analyzed the vast quantity of data to draw conclusions on whole populations, allowing them to monetize it.
We’ve also seen it abused. Some companies haven’t done enough to protect our data, resulting in breaches that has made our private information insecure. Others have sold it to disreputable companies, allowing them to target us for everything from marketing fraudulent services to influencing elections. Companies themselves have asked for better and clearer rules.
This needs to stop. Data generated by each individual needs to be owned by them, with certain rights conveyed that will allow them to know how it’s used and protect it. These rights include:
- The right to be informed as to what data will be collected, and how it will be used
- The right to opt out of data collection or sharing
- The right to be told if a website has data on you, and what that data is
- The right to be forgotten; to have all data related to you deleted upon request
- The right to be informed if ownership of your data changes hands
- The right to be informed of any data breaches including your information in a timely manner
- The right to download all data in a standardized format to port to another platform
Consent should be informed and active – companies are responsible for ensuring that they collect a positive opt-in from each user before collecting any data, and this opt-in should be accompanied by a clear and easy-to-understand statement about what data is being collected, and how it is going to be used. You can waive these rights and opt in to sharing your data if you wish for the companies’ benefit and your own convenience – but then you should receive a share of the economic value generated from your data.