The Importance of Individual Data Ownership

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Data is the currency of this century. 

Just look at how many apps you use every day and don’t pay for. It’s not free because the companies aren’t interested in making money or because they’re just out to build free tools.

They’re free because those apps are generating data about you the entire time you’re using them — and sometimes even when you’re not.

From the perspective of the app developers and business owners, that data can be used to improve your experience and generate higher revenues than if they were to simply charge the users for access to the platform.

Over the last decade, the tech giants have primarily used your data to learn more about you and target you with specific advertisements as you use their platforms. Have you ever seen an ad on Instagram for something that you were thinking about the day before? No, they’re not reading your mind. They just know enough about your interests and habits that they can predict the products that you will be most interested in.

More recently, the use of your data has evolved from targeting ads to forming a complete digital identity. Now, activity data from your wearables, delivery and shopping data from Amazon, voice data from Alexa and Siri, front porch activity data from your Ring Doorbell, entertainment preferences from Spotify, Netflix and YouTube, and so much more is being collected and attributed to your digital identity.

In this ever expanding tech environment, individuals are being treated as resources that generate more and more data, thus more and more revenue. What this means is that you are giving away the extremely valuable information that you generate in exchange for funny cat videos or the ability to see what your friends are doing.

Thankfully, laws such as GDPR and CCPA have come out recently to help individuals take back some control over their data, however these laws do little to change the power and influence that the tech giants have.

Give Individuals Control Over Their Data & Bring Back Competition.

All of this data is still centralized by a few big players in the market. This centralized data makes competition extremely difficult – if not impossible for smaller entrepreneurs and startups.

So how do we shift the balance of power back to the individuals?

The only sustainable path forward is to empower individuals to take control and ownership over their data.

Imagine an alternative to today’s tech environment in which every app or website that you use still collects data about you – but it stores this data in a location that you own and have full control over. If you aren’t satisfied by that app’s services anymore, you can turn off their access to your data and walk away, still in control of your data.

In this environment, a competing application now has the opportunity to earn your business by providing a better service or customer experience. When you make the switch to the new service provider, you simply grant them access to the data they require and you are back in business.

Compare this to today’s environment: If you aren’t happy with Facebook’s services, you can leave Facebook and delete your account but all of that data remains with Facebook. When you switch to an alternative platform, that platform is starting from scratch and has to collect a massive amount of data about you in order to provide a comparable user experience. This is often such a daunting task that most businesses or apps don’t even try.

However, by building a personal data hub in which users can store and control their data, we are able to democratize data ownership and re-introduce competition into the digital environment.

Our Solution: The Data Revolution

I am working with a team to develop just that. We are building a platform called aka.

AKA is a secure location for individuals to store and control their data. Individuals can use their AKA data hub to register and sign into supporting applications. Doing so ensures that any personal data generated by that application will be stored in the user’s AKA. It also means that, with permission, that application can access data that is already existing in that user’s aka.

This benefits both the individual and application.

From the AKA Hub, an individual can control which data is shared with that application and can disable access at any time. Any personal data generated by that application will be stored in the user’s aka and will be accessible by other applications upon request. As more applications use that individual’s AKA, more data will be generated and stored in AKA. This creates an incredibly valuable source of information about that individual that can travel from site to site, app to app all while remaining under the full control and ownership of the individual.

For the first time, any application or business has the ability to access a rich source of data about each of their users or customers. If the user approves the request, that data is then shared with the application. Apps and businesses can do all of this while remaining fully compliant with data privacy laws because their users are in full control over the data the entire time.

aka is in early release and is currently working closely with partner applications to fine tune our software. If you are interested in becoming a partner application, please reach out to us! We’re always eager to chat about data.

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