Instead of thinking of the digital data as something collected by others and somehow used against you, it becomes a mechanism for you to get companies to send you information about things you actually want to buy.
Personal.com, located in the Washington, DC area, have built a personal data service that encourages users to enter personal information into Personal’s cloud-based vault. The service allows people to organize their data into ‘gems’, then send this information to family, friends and business associates. Here are some quick-hit videos that explain the company and the concept.
I have direct experience with personal data vaults and, frankly, the uptake on this type of service is currently poor. It may well be a generational thing, and perhaps time has to pass before enough people will trust a cloud service with their secrets.
But I think that the real obstacle for existing personal vaults may well be the current ‘user pay’ business model. People don’t see the value in a paid-for personal data service — but could they use a service that allows them to control and sell their own personal data?
Personal’s model anticipates a future where advertisers will seek out personal data from prospects and pay for the information. Personal is hoping to capitalize on this by becoming the broker for millions of personal data transactions, and take a percentage of the transaction fees as commissions. We — as rightful owners of the data — get the rest!
Is this the future of personal data? Are we seeing a move away from intrusive data collection for the service operator’s profit alone (the Google and Facebook models) to a world where we own, control and reap the benefits of our own information?
2 thoughts on “Personal data and a new business model”
I too look too a future where we truly control our own data and can make decisions about use and disclosure and even commercialization. However, even when we get secure clouds that can keep criminals at bay (and we are not there yet) I am concerned that cloud services make state access to my data easier than ever.
The government’s (foreign or our own) access to personal information is something we will need to keep in balance with the need to control our own data. Are governments a higher risk than corporations that are exclusively profit-driven and have long histories of privacy violations?
Governments may represent the higher threat, but there is a much lower likelihood they’ll violate our individual privacy either through new laws or access requests. Corporations may cause us less damage (lower threat) but I’d argue the likelihood that they will exploit us is close to certain!
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