How much do you know about data anyway?

How much do you know about data anyway?

Jade Emmons, Communications Assistant at Profusion, discusses the new Data Protection Bill and whether the public really understand the value of data.

The Queen’s Speech recently had an interesting little tidbit for the tech industry. Under the new Data Protection Bill, consumers are going to have more power over their data, including giving people the right to be forgotten where a company has no legitimate reason to store and use their data, and social media companies have to delete past user data if requested at the age of 18.

Of course, you can’t really talk about the new Data Protection Bill without also mentioning the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Queen’s Speech also addressed this, by confirming that the UK Government intends to enforce GDPR come the May 2018 deadline.

This is quite a sea-change in data protection and use – whereas before, who owned an individual’s data was somewhat of a grey area, now, power over it is placed solely in the individual’s hands. They say with great power comes great responsibility, but does the Average Joe really understand the value of the data they now have control over?

It’s a topic that seems to come up time and time again. If I had a pound for every time someone brought up the overall ignorance of how much data Facebook has on us and its value, I’d probably be on the Times Rich List. But it’s a valid, if not often repeated, point. The general public are only just, barely, waking up to the value of their data.

The amount of data companies like Facebook and Google hold on individuals is increasing quickly, especially given their continuing acquisitions of companies like Eyefluence, Crowdtangle and Faciometrics. Even Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods has been mooted as being more about the data the supermarket holds than the store itself.

But simply amending the law isn’t going to suddenly make the public aware about how their data is being used and misused. Funnily enough, recently people have shown greater awareness over the security of their data thanks to a spate of high profile hacks and ransom demands. Maybe it’ll take a WannaCry-scale misuse of data by an irresponsible company for people to realise just how valuable it is.

There’s an interesting theory that in the future we won’t be working to earn a living. Instead, we’ll sell the streams of data we produce everyday to companies for them to pore over. Of course, before that theory becomes true, consumers will have to become aware of the gold mine they’re sat upon.