Personal data are the new oil and have changed the way we manage our personal information and our privacy. The Internet of things and Big Data can create a very positive change in society, but the relation between users and companies is not being as transparent as it should be. Most users accept that the data generated belong to the organizations that compile them, but should it continue being this way?
In an interview recently published by Harvard Business Review, Alex “Sandy” Pentland talks about the need for a reform of data property on the Internet. The New Deal suggests a new management where people own the data they produce and only they have the capacity to control such data.
But the problem not only concerns data property. Users are not properly reported of what data, among all they generate, are compiled. They live with the feeling of being spied all the time, which creates profound distrust. For Pentland, the key is transparency and users’ right to know what companies collect about the different aspects of their lives.
The relation between companies and individuals needs to be healthier. If the user knows exactly what data are being compiled and has the capacity to decide whether they want to share them, a climate of confidence will be created with the organisation. In Pentland words, ‘people agree on sharing their data if they believe they’ll obtain some benefit from it and that such data won’t be given to third parties in ways they don’t understand.’
The current business strategy of compiling all their clients’ data without having a clear transparency policy is a bomb waiting to go off. Pentland knows that the business model of many companies may be threatened. However, radically changing the way they compile their clients’ information and how they report it will create long-term benefits and improve their brand image.
The New Deal stands up for companies’ commitment to their clients, building trust and creating value. In a context characterised by transparency ‘people will be more willing to share their data if they believe it is safe to do so. They believe in the system and acknowledge the value of sharing.’ To companies like ours, the commitment of transparency is key to have the trust of users who, up to this very day, have seen how their rights have been violated again and again.
Translation by Pablo Velázquez