How will the data economy evolve?

How will the data economy evolve?

Tom Weiss, Sat 11 May 2019

As we build more and more devices with Internet connections built into them, there is an explosion in the amount of data we capture, and an equivalent growth in the possibilities and opportunities around Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.

What we talk less about is how we are going to manage this increase in data. The infrastructure we have today isn't designed to handle the amount of data we produce at scale today. The issues are numerous: how to protect personally identifiable information (PII); how to break down internal data silos; how to streamline data harmonization; and how to ultimately resolve some of the data duplication and storage resource issues we first saw at the dawn of the Internet.

We've seen many possible solutions to this over the last ten years, from the dominance of the duopoly to the evolution of peer-to-peer protocols. Satoshi Nakamoto's seminal white paper "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" was published in November 2008 triggering a frenzy of files and transaction proofs shared directly between network nodes without the need of a central server. In 2009, Bitcoin became the first cryptocurrency to utilize a decentralized ledger to keep a record of all transactions taking place across a P2P network.

Partly as a response to Facebook and Google's hegemony, we are now starting to see the launch of some of the foundational technology that featured additional functionality that we think will help peer-to-peer to change the digital economy fundamentally. The launch of Ethereum in 2015, which features smart contract functionality, is an excellent example of this.

These new technologies are not just about more efficient sharing, movement, and storage of data: the is much higher consumer awareness of the role that the likes of FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) and other giant Web companies, play in our lives.

Take Facebook, founded four and a half years before the launch of the Bitcoin network. The company was technically built using traditional data silos. It was also created with a tacit understanding that, by using the free tools the companies provided, consumers were giving up their data, and that Facebook would use that data to build a revenue model. What is much more debatable is how much customers understand, and are happy with, the likes of Facebook building walled gardens around their data,

If the likes of Facebook launched today, would it be more likely to build on open standards? The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes some way to providing a legal framework that gives consumers more control and ownership of their data. Consumers now have the right to access all of the data a company holds on them and, under the right to be Forgotten, to have that company delete it.

GDPR and the technological paradigm shift that Blockchain has enabled is spawning a new decentralized data economy. It's early days and business, legal and tech models still have gaps, greys areas, and required revision, but a future where consented access to subsets of decentralized data is the norm seems a lot more likely than it did five years ago.

We created the Dativa Innovation Hub to create an environment where teams can address some of these gaps and grey areas and create open source standards and software to facilitate the privacy-safe authentication, storage, and sharing of data. Some of the initiatives and technologies that we are working on include:

  • Overlays data capture architecture (ODCA): Conceived by Paul Knowles, Innovation & Emerging Technology lead at Dativa, this innovative architecture represents schema as multi-dimensional objects consisting of generic schema bases and linked overlays. Primarily devised for data object interoperability and privacy compliant data sharing, this architecture can significantly enhance our ability to pool data between organizations and teams more efficiently. The separation between schema bases and overlays means multiple parties can use the same base objects for similar data capture requirements thus providing a standard from which to decentralize data.

  • Self-sovereign identity (SSI): Self-sovereignty is the concept of individuals, organizations, and things having sole ownership of their digital and physical profile, and control over how their data is shared and used. Dativa is one of the founding stewards of the Sovrin Network, an open source project creating a global public utility for SSI. We believe in the ethical use of personal data and see the Sovrin Network as a viable framework to accomplish this goal and to apply it globally. Our continued allegiance to both the Sovrin Foundation and Hyperledger Indy, a distributed ledger, purpose-built for decentralized identity, places us at the cutting edge of identity and access management solutions.

  • Blinding Identity Taxonomy (BIT): The BIT includes 46 different PII elements that could un-blind the identity of a person, an organization, or a thing. Identifying all PII elements is one of those critical pieces of behind-the-scenes plumbing that is expected to fundamentally improve data protection of personal data as deployment rates in both traditional and SSI domains rise. Although initially developed in-house, the BIT now resides with Kantara Initiative, a non-profit industry consortium and professional trade association dedicated to advancing technical and legal innovation and trust framework operations related to digital identity management and data privacy. Dativa is proud to have spearheaded this initiative. You can find the latest version of the BIT here.

  • Consent management: When it comes to the privacy policy, Dativa advocates privacy by design methodology following regulatory requirements to protect the rights and interests of the consumer. One of the initiatives in the innovation hub is the creation of a GDPR-compliant framework based on Hyperledger Indy to manage the consent lifecycle. Our ultimate goal is to establish digital trust in a decentralized user-centric data economy where the user can rescind personal data held by data controllers once they have withdrawn consent.

  • Digital wallet compatibility: A digital wallet must accommodate many different standards in the same way that a physical wallet can hold many various forms of currency and cards. We will build all of our middleware tools for compatibility with a digital wallet initiative called Minerva, a new application of digital wallet that allows organizations and people to participate in the decentralized data economy.

However the data economy evolves, Dativa is helping our customers prepare for it and ensure their continued success.

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Dativa is a global consulting firm providing data consulting and engineering services to companies that want to build and implement strategies to put data to work. We work with primary data generators, businesses harvesting their own internal data, data-centric service providers, data brokers, agencies, media buyers and media sellers.

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