Volunteered personal information – a new chapter

Instead of organisations owning and controlling data, how would it be if individuals had control of the management, use and sharing of information about themselves? 

Datonomy has been reading with interest about the theory and practice of such an idea in Mydex’s paper “The Case for Personal Information Empowerment: The rise of the personal data store” and it reminds him of that Barclays advert a few years ago with Robbie Coltrane which ended with a punchline something like: “of course, you know what this means, don’t you? We’ll all become our own bank managers.” 

Bank managers aside, the concept of a “personal data store” is an intriguing one. For the consumer or citizen, it would bring convenience (how many passwords does Datonomy struggle with every day, and this is just the tip of the “convenience” iceberg) and it would bring the prospect of control (sharing personal information only with intended recipients, not those “carefully selected third parties” that Datonomy doesn’t understand who they might be); for the organisation (government or private sector) the eye-catching proposition in the current climate is likely to be about saving cost.

Chapter 6 of the paper contains a detailed exposition of all the wasted costs involved in managing data…..handling duplicate records and inaccurate or out of date information, not to mention the initial costs of acquisition to name but a few. There are other benefits too, contends Mydex, and there is some force in that contention, but Datonomy is guessing that cost-saving will chime best of all in these times of austerity.

There’s a good chapter entitled “Why Now? Technology Developments” which, if you’re already familiar with the concept of personal data stores, is perhaps the place to start.

So Mydex has been developing a web-based, intuitive platform to make the vision of personal data stores tangible. And they are a community interest company, so bound by a social purpose that sees most of their profits reinvested in the company. Datonomy will watch their progress with interest.

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