Five Areas of Collective Action Around Personal Data

I'm immersed in deep thought around my personal data, asking some important questions about my digital self--which includes the state of my online personal data.

After reading 14 big trends to watch in 2013, by Alex Howard (@digiphile), I got immersed in World Economic Forums Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class paper.

I'm still processing all of my thoughts around the paper, but one statement really stands out:

The issues surrounding personal data – political, technological and commercial alike – are numerous and complex. The choices stakeholders make today will influence the personal data ecosystem for years to come.

The World Economic Forum then outlines five key area that require action:

  1. Innovate around user-centricity and trust. The personal data ecosystem will be built on the trust and control individuals have in sharing their data. From a technological, policy and sociological sense all stakeholders need to embrace this construct. One particular area of focus is the continued testing and promoting of “trust frameworks” that explore innovative approaches for identity assurance at Internet scale
  2. Define global principles for using and sharing personal data. Given the lack of globally accepted policies governing the use and exchange of personal data, an international community of stakeholders should articulate and advance core principles of a user-centric personal data ecosystem. These pilots should invite real-world input from a diverse group of individuals who can not only articulate the values, needs and desires of end users, but also the complex and contextual nuances involved in revealing one’s digital identity
  3. Strengthen the dialog between regulators and the private sector. Building on a collective sense of fundamental principles for creating a balanced ecosystem, public and private stakeholders should actively collaborate as the ecosystem begins to take shape. Those responsible for building and deploying the tools (the technologists) should more closely align with those making the rules (regulators)
  4. Focus on interoperability and open standards. With the appropriate user controls and legal infrastructure in place, innovations in how personal data moves throughout the value chain will be a key driver for societal and economic value creation. Enabling a secure, trusted, reliable and open infrastructure (both legal and technical) will be vital. Participants should identify best practices and engage with standards bodies, advocacy groups, think tanks and various consortia on the user-centric approaches required to scale the value of personal data
  5. Continually share knowledge. It’s a huge challenge for entities to keep up with new research, policies and commercial developments. To stay current, stakeholders should share insights and learnings on their relevant activities, from both successes as well as failures. After all, the ecosystem’s promise is about the tremendous value created when individuals share information about who they are and what they know. Clearly, this principle should also apply to practitioners within the development community

Whether its social networks or education and healthcare, personal data will be a major driver of API adoption in 2013. Personal data is at the heart of the recent social and mobile movements, and there are very serious illnesses in how we buy and sell personal data in Silicon Valley.

I agree with Alex Howard, that personal data ownership will be big issue in 2013, and intrigued by the World Economic Forums insight on personal data, it asks a lot of great questions--questions that we need bring mainstream in 2013.