Introduction to the Personal Data Ecosystem

What is Personal Data? It is data:

  • about you – your name, gender, address, e-mail address, etc.
  • generated by you – status updates, photos, videos etc.
  • created via your actions and observed digital systems – click stream data, geolocation logs, purchace transactions etc.
  • inferred about you from analyzing the other above types of data

Personal data has a lot of value, not just monetary value, but also intrinsic value for individuals and social value to understand our society.

Today there is a huge network or ecosystem that gathers information about people and uses it to target market to them. This information graphic, submitted to the FCC, describes what is happening. Data is collected when individuals interact with Banks, Services, Retail Stores and on the Internet. These services re-sell the data to a ring of Data Brokers who aggregate and re-package data, selling it to Data Users who then use it when interacting with the individual.

What is wrong with this picture?

All of this is happening without the consent or in many cases the awareness of the individual. In addition, that inner ring of services we interact with directly are gathering our personal data but we, the consumers of information and producers of the data, don’t have our own copies of our own data….yet…

Many of the companies in our consortium develop personal data bank services. Through these services, individuals collect their own data in an account, and, just like a bank account, individuals “own” it.  Individuals have the right to withdraw their data and move it to another service.  The banking world comprises a world wide network of over 9,000 instituions. Around those institutions many services that provide services to individuals. It can be similar for data!

The focus of this consortium, as our name suggests, is to foster a whole and diverse ecosystem of businesses made possible when individuals are at the center of their own data lives.

The startup companies (projects and nonprofits) in the consortium have been peer reviewed and judged to have a high ethical standard of how they treat users – giving individuals control of their data in ways most services currently do not. You could think of us as defining the “fair trade” of personal data markets.

The World Economic Forum released a report in February 2011 saying that people should be at the center of their own data lives.

Part of our mission is helping the existing industry transform, similar to the way there are transitional phases from industry-chemical farming to become an organic farm. We don’t expect all the industries that depend on today’s data markets to change overnight.  We are publishing a monthly report focusing on the enterprise market.  We also have a bi-monthly free newsletter about the industry aimed more toward the general public.

We have lots of resources on this site about this emerging industry: