There’s a lot going on with consumer data right now, from electronic health records to Twitter archives in the Library of Congress. That means a lot of information could be floating around, some of it pertaining directly to you, and some of it being remotely associated with you. Regardless of what the data is, the still-growing trend towards more open sharing is creating a privacy response that will likely become bigger than anything we’ve seen in the past.
Facebook has effectively claimed the Internet, and Google is out to put its Android platform in as many places as possible. Technology and data-sharing is becoming incorporated into your doctor’s visits, your travel itineraries, your daily schedule management and your legally-binding communication for work. It’s an unavoidable progression, particularly as it effects the ability for individuals to accomplish more with the technology at hand. Making tasks easier for consumers is the trend’s largest saving grace.
And while Facebook’s data on you may be different than Google’s data on you, the in-between sharing of all this data makes up an interesting digital representation of your consumer behavior, your opinions, your daily activity, and even your whereabouts. Combined, even the information Google has on you across multiple applications and access points can offer a great deal of personal insight. Google has already found ways in which to deal with this from a company standpoint, as have all the others. But from a user perspective, that may not be enough in the end.
Even as companies such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Twitter look to open their platforms for easier data-sharing across services and apps, they’re all competing to own as much as that information as possible. It’s monetizable now, as search information, among other things. As the mobile industry grows, that data will be further monetized as it’s given back to consumers for whatever purpose they see fit.
In some ways, this is a nice return to consumers having more control over all the data they’ve released to these numerous and growing services. Once Google Goggles is in full swing, you’ll be able to take a photo of a chair at your friend’s house, and see the stores at which it’s sold, what materials it’s made of, which of your other friends have the chair, and if the measurements fit to put the chair in your own living room.
Re-individualizing crowd-sourced data in this way has its own perks and pitfalls, which consumers, privacy advocates and corporations will have to deal with. It’s not entirely different from the mechanisms we saw with competing companies struggling to reach a point where data sharing is mutually beneficial in regards to their open platform offerings. Consumers will have to employ a similar mentality towards the data they’re indirectly sharing with each other.
Where things go from here is hard to determine, especially as some major moves are welcomed by consumers, and others are immediately rejected. It’s still necessary to build out a good ecosystem for developers to flourish, as they help drive access and demand for a given platform. Utilizing all of this in a constructive manner is a tall order for our corporate entities, but one I won’t retract any time soon.