Individual-centric data ecosystem

Status: 
ongoing
Period: 
July 2013 - present
Funding: 
50,000 €
Funding organization: 

Telecom Italia (unrestricted gift), and the Nexa Center (contribution in kind)

Executive summary: 

For each single data subject, being able to access and reuse her 'digital footprint' (i.e., all data left behind by users within their use of digital services, and the personally unique arrangement that makes someone identifiable just upon the specific combination of her system information) arguably represents an opportunity to enhance its ability to receive better services, to make more informed consumption decisions, as well as to avoid misuses of her data. This research threads aims at reviewing contributions on the value attached by users to their personal data, identifying criteria to assess costs and benefits of alternative (individual-centric) models for the management of personal data, and draft future scenarios.

Background: 

If one matches the exponential reduction in the cost of managing information with the exponential growth in the amount of information shared in a digital environment by users, the trivial outcome is that organisations are increasingly in the position of holding information about individuals. For each single data subject, being able to access and reuse its 'digital footprint' arguably represents an opportunity to enhance its ability to receive better services, to make more informed consumption decisions, as well as to avoid misuses of the date she generated. However, this poses several challenges at legal, economic and technological levels, which are worth investigating.

Objectives: 

Last Update: 2014-04-16

This research threads aims at: i) reviewing contributions on the value attached by users to their personal data, as reported in the recent empirical literature, so that typical online behaviours can be depicted; ii) identifying criteria to assess costs and benefits (for data subjects, data controllers, service providers, society as a whole) of an 'individual-centric' management of the digital footprint of each user, starting from existing examples; iii) discussing future scenarios, e.g., the economic sustainability of market endeavours such as 'personal data vaults'.

Results: 

Last Update: 2014-04-16

We performed a review of the recent economic literature aimed at empirically assessing users’ (i.e., in particular, Internet users’) valuation of their personal data, drawing policy-oriented conclusions. What emerged from the review, soon to be published as a stand alone article, is that people differ in their valuation of personal data, and in their willingness to trade privacy for money and/or for some forms of convenience. Moreover, contextual factors matter. When these elements are taken into account users seems to be willing to assign a non-negligible value to their privacy and therefore businesses could use privacy strategically, leveraging the protection of private information as a competitive advantage. More generally, the empirical literature reviewed in this article seems to support the ongoing evolution in the data protection domain. E.g., the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation is introducing such as data portability (Article 18), for which the data subject has the right to obtain from the data controller a copy of the data, and transfer them to another information system. This literature review was reported in the broader deliverable on Internet Privacy, Identity, Trust and Reputation Mechanisms of the EINS Network of Excellence EINS, coordinated by Alessandro Mantelero. In September 2014, Raimondo Iemma presented at the 8th International Conference on Methodologies, Technologies and Tools enabling e-Government an article around "smart disclosure" of consumption data, mainly based on the Green Button project on energy data in the U.S.: Data Ingredients: smart disclosure and open government data as complementary tools to meet policy objectives. The case of energy efficiency.

Related Publications:
Federico Morando, Raimondo Iemma, Emilio Raiteri
20 May 2014
Internet Policy Review