Beginning in the early 2000’s, Australia went through a resource boom. Minerals were extracted, jobs were created and the resulting economic activity supported the Australian economy through the 2008 financial crisis. The opportunity to capitalise on the value creation may not have benefited the country in ways like the sovereign wealth fund of Norway have. However, that can serve as an example to help us figure out how we can do things better. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The true value it does offer is the ability to grab those key lessons from the past to ensure the same mistakes don’t happen again.
A new resource boom is underway and it’s not isolated to Australia. This resource is portable, distributed and widespread. It’s digital. Swap out the mineral extraction with data and multiply the potential for value creation. The opportunities brought by this new ‘oil’ are substantial.
Personal data and trust uprising
The release of the draft report from the Australian Productivity Commission on Data Availability and Use is a long time coming. The data boom is obvious. The value being extracted can benefit private and public sectors and the individuals that these sectors are there to serve. Regulations for data collection and access have been lacking so far. It needs to be reformed to keep up and support this increasingly digitised world. Tweaking existing legislation and frameworks to accommodate this change will not suffice, a complete overhaul is needed and Australia has yet to participate in this global development. The main barrier is a lack of trust.
The most recent 2016 Census debacle highlighted the diminished trust that Australians have towards the Government handling personal data. Some Australians would rather give false information or face fines by dodging census entirely, than give their name and address, which will now be kept in government systems for 4 years. This perceived abuse of public trust only exposed the underlying sentiment that our digital lives are close to us. They reflect our human story, our very identity.
Public concerns grow over data security with both public and private sector services exposed to hacking. The Snowden effect increased awareness that surveillance is all-present and pervasive, thus escalating concerns people already have. This exposes a clear need for security to be enhanced.
Stepping away from old models
Deloitte’s Australian Privacy Index 2016 has found that “94% of consumers believe trust is more important than convenience”. This points towards a major shift that has already started; the market is beginning to move as centralised models of data management are losing followers and alternatives are sprouting. A number of convergent trends motivated companies to disrupt old systems based on centralised data hoarding and dissection. The same report finds that consumer trust towards social networks has declined – where it dropped from the third most trusted category to near the bottom of the list.
Hacks, leaks and data breaches happen often (Sony, Yahoo, iCloud, Australian Red Cross), jeopardising centrally stored data and systems architectures themselves. The public know this. Over 400 million people use adblockers and privacy focused plugins, apps and browsers are increasingly popular. Adding to that, people are starting to look at VPNs, blockchain technology and decentralised Internet solutions as means to privately store their data and securely browse online in a truly free way.
Companies have started addressing privacy concerns by adopting the https protocol on their websites and explicitly disclosing their cookie policies. Some messaging apps have incorporated end-to-end encryption options; it’s a start, but encryption should be the standard.
These growing concerns can be mitigated by using technology that puts the rights of individuals as core to its design. Enabling user permissioned flows of data to circulate through this expanding ecosystem can grease the wheels of commerce, social planning and human to human understanding. Enabling citizens to put their data to use to make their life experiences and interactions better is both good policy and the basis for building new economic value.
Decentralising the whole data economy by putting people at its core opens up new value chains and business opportunities for consumers and enterprise alike
If data is an asset, then giving choice to the owners of this asset allows value to be created. Some industries that rely on easy access to data controlled and only permissioned by individuals feel rightfully frustrated that their value creation will be limited.
Clarity and openness on how personal data is used is crucial in building trust. When trust is broken, people won’t share. This is born of fear that the value currently being realised will no longer be able to be. However, as part of the recommendations, giving “individuals more control over the information held about them, affords individuals more choice about the products and services they consume and is an avenue to improve market competitiveness”. This is echoed explicitly in Meeco’s proposition that in an ecosystem of trust, mutual value is easily created. Individuals are more likely to share their data, or opt-in to it being used when they have choice, when trust is established.
The amount of data gathered from the individual is inversely proportional to his/her trust in the entity asking for data
One of the key commission recommendations is giving more access and choice to individuals in the data held on them. As the world’s first Life Management Platform, Meeco is positioned to do just that. Your everyday life creates large amounts of data, consolidating it within your power is a win-win. Going beyond Personal Data Stores, Meeco not only provides a secure storage for that data but also offers a secure and interoperable way of sharing it. Once organised and in the user’s control, data becomes more useful for the individual across a multitude of scenarios. The data always remains in the total control of the individual. This transparency and verification contributes to building trust. One of the major examples of obstructed data access is health data. Waiting years for data requests severely hinders treatment processes and research and development in fields not limited to health.
Having more open and optimised health data access would literally save lives
Australia can no longer miss out on the opportunities brought by addressing this gap. Supporting individuals in making better, data driven decisions, getting value from their personal data and enabling more free flowing commerce is a core aim of the new data economy.
Personal data on personal terms
Sharing of data has been taken to the next level – people can issue their own Terms and Conditions, shifting the balance of power. Through Meeco's consent manager, people can define the granularity of access to their data, who they share it with and for how long, all parameters within their control and enabling them to opt in or out of data collection. The information they do share with individuals and/or organisations remains in their control.
Meeco is focussed on developing and delivering tools for people to be empowered through personal data ownership. In order to be a part of this new economy, some challenges need to be overcome. Customer apathy born out of a ‘I have nothing to hide’ attitude, only serves to bring more confusion and make building awareness much more challenging. Despite this, the market is gaining traction as enterprises and governments put emphasis on privacy and unlocking the value of personal data
To be ahead of the curve, Australia must make sure all Australians get value out of the new asset unearthed in this emerging resource boom – their personal data. Once being given back their data and having trust established, value will be created for all people and stakeholders of the new data economy. Not unlike the mining boom, opportunities are bountiful and are already being pursued. Whatever the motivations for following these new data guidelines are, one thing is abundantly clear – it heralds the shift of power back to the individual which is at the core of Meeco's ethos.