Some digital media users report avoiding or stopping use of a service or platform altogether because it did not provide enough control over their personal data
Current tensions and anticipated future issues alike must be addressed to ensure the successful development of a robust digital economy for all stakeholders, said a World Economic Forum white paper.
The white paper on “Shaping the Future Implications of Digital Media for Society Valuing Personal Data and Rebuilding Trust” said that in this era of hyperconnectivity, the web and internet connected devices are advancing into nearly every part of one’s life. Recent developments have enabled entirely new business models and presented consumers with innovative solutions to age-old problems. Such changes promise to continue reshaping industries and societies for years to come.
However, end users may be unaware of the full extent of personal data collected by the platforms and services they use. Further, more recent trends in end user behaviour, such as the spread of ad blockers and use of virtual private networks (VPNs), run against the implicit value exchange typical of many consumer-business relationships.
Research contained in the report has shown that some digital media users report avoiding or stopping use of a service or platform altogether because it did not provide enough control over their personal data. These facts and findings point to some key sources of tension in the relationship between end users and digital media platforms.
To maintain clarity and consistency around the concepts surrounding personal data, the World Economic Forum has introduced a new framework called Valuing Personal Data, which provides taxonomy of types of personal data that result from an end user’s use of digital media platforms, services and products.
According to the Valuing Personal Data framework, the key building blocks of an individual’s personal data are their digital identity, digital personae, digital footprints and derived data. Each element in this progression builds on its predecessor and includes the data sets before it. These elements are also linked by diminishing end-user awareness, results have shown that end users are most aware of the online presence concept and least aware of the concepts surrounding derived data.
These two terms – online presence and derived data – are fundamental concepts that can help end users think clearly about the implications of their online actions.
Online presence refers to the connected or online activity, actions, behaviours, information and data that are generated, accumulated, stored and claimed in cyberspace. For an individual, an online presence is the complete set of data generated from one’s interaction with online and/or connected services and devices. This is sometimes referred to as the digital footprint.
By combining and analysing different data sets, companies can gain new insights about individuals to help them tailor their products, services and advertising, and provide intelligence for other research-related purposes. Some examples of such research-related purposes include analyzing the text in Twitter posts to predict food shortages in countries, and analyzing demographic data to serve people with more useful and relevant content. Information learned about individuals based on analysis of data that the individual does not explicitly provide or may not be aware of is called derived data.