Living in a Smarter World: From Privacy to Control

4th Dec 2015

If you ask people to define their digital identity, their answers typically fall into one of three categories:

1. My digital identity is the personal data I provide to trusted individuals and companies.

2. My digital identity is my social interactions on networks like Facebook and Twitter.

3. My digital identity is my interactions on business outlets like LinkedIn.

The correct answer? “Yes, and.” Your digital identity is comprised of all these things, along with the multiple breadcrumbs you leave throughout a normal day online, via your mobile phone, and by simply walking through the world as you’re tracked by the Internet of Things. As sensors have evolved to become cheaper and ubiquitous in nature, you can also track your inner self via wearables popularized by the Quantified Self movement. Soon our actions will also be universally tracked within virtual environments provided by frameworks like Oculus Rift or Microsoft’s new HoloLens technology.

Hundreds of thousands of outside actors tracking your actions, emotions, and intentions every day.
Every hour.
Every moment.

Profiting from our Digital Identity

So here’s my question as you think about your future digital self:

Do you want external algorithms to know you better than you know yourself? 

It’s not a rhetorical question. And it’s not a question of preference, meaning, do you want to track your personal data or not. Today, as you read this article, your preference may be not to upload photographs to Facebook, to tweet, or even use a mobile phone. That’s your choice. But you’re still being tracked.

However, there’s no need to live in fear of surveillance if we shift the context of the data conversationfrom privacy to control. This allows us to create a Life Management Platform to control how others accessed our personal data where we can benefit from all the insights our digital identity provides. In the same way preference driven algorithms analyze our data today, these platforms will allow individuals to benefit from information tracked about their lives.

From Crowd to Cloud

Life Management Platforms are beginning to take off around the world. At the core of all of them is something called a Personal Cloud which functions like a Dropbox for all the data related to your digital identity. Today, most people think of their personal data only as it relates to the online world – you choose certain information to be released to your bank, while other data can only be accessed by close friends. A Personal Cloud would allow you to decide how your data can be accessed in any life situation, real or digital, so you don’t have to constantly provide passwords or data permissions throughout your day.

For instance, while walking to the bank to make a deposit, you could decide how your location data is accessed (via GPS), if you want to be contacted by local businesses (via blue-tooth or Beacon technology) or tagged by facial recognition technology. Clouds and Life Management Platforms will allow us to define how we want our data accessed by all of the stakeholders currently doing so without our knowledge or consent.

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