Facebook breach highlights necessary shift in data ownership – it’s time for individuals to take back control

The Facebook data breach by Cambridge Analytica – which saw the political consultancy improperly harvesting and using data from millions of Facebook accounts – is yet again highlighting issues around digital privacy as well as the rights of individuals to choose how their data is used. Of course, the big technology firms have a leading role to play in protecting user data, so it’s encouraging to see Mark Zuckerberg’s apology (albeit many felt he should have responded more quickly), but more should and could be done to change how individuals and companies view and use personal data.

What the news brings to light is the opportunity we all have to utilize our data more effectively. In a digital world, data is currency and individuals have the chance to monetize it in order to get something back from the data they are willing to share with organizations.

It will, of course, require a shift in how individuals and companies use data going forward but giving individuals a way of controlling and monetizing their personal data could provide the solution. If advertisers and companies want to use our personal data, they should be prepared to pay for it, or offer something in return for using in it in a pre-determined way. Take, for example, the vast amounts of digital advertisements and content we receive on our mobile each day – mobile users should of able to say what content they are prepared to accept as well as getting something in return for this data.

Technology holds the key to solving the data privacy and consent conundrum. Only when individuals and consumers have the opportunity to create their own profiles, select preferences as to to what they are happy to receive and how their data will be used and, most importantly, are rewarded by the entity using that data, will we start to see a fairer and more transparent system. Our own technology within the Cloudbanter Messages and Monetization SDK apps are designed so users accumulate points which they redeem for rewards, in return for accepting digital content based on their profile and preference.

The message is very clear. We are all getting more digitally savvy and aware of how our data is used. Corporates must beware the shift to rewards-based digital advertising – it’s only a matter of time before individuals take back the power and all data is monetized.

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