Who watches the Watchmen? Good hacking question.

General Data Protection really needs some better champions.

Who’s watching your Vital Statistics?  It certainly doesn’t feel like the big data companies are taking care of your finer details. Facebook hacked again. Google fined a record $5 billion by the EU. And don’t even mention Cambridge Analytica.How is our cosy, personal data being so badly abused? Well, largely because we let it. The amount of data we share, for “free”, in return for valuable services, is mind-boggling. Google Maps tells me when my next flight is when I look at Heathrow Airport on a map. In fact my Google data download alone fills a 40-page document.

And all of this is making some people deeply uncomfortable.

Take this chap –  a grammar school graduate from London, called Tim Berners-Lee. He’s so worried he has set up a start-up, called Inrupt, which will allow us to keep all our personal data… well… personal. We can then choose, on a case-by-case basis who we share it with, temporarily, to enable them to share a service with us.

The company’s first project, Solid, is an open-source platform that safely stores user data, letting apps and sites use it only when the user authorises it. (“SOLID” stands for SOcial LInked Data – we see what you did there, Sir Tim.)

But the principle here is more important than the portmanteau. Data is precious. It is the lifeblood of the internet. And we need to start valuing it as much as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, Uber et al, value it.

And they’re not alone. Angel.co alone lists 125 Data Privacy start-ups, 552 Data Privacy angel investors, and 57 start-up jobs in Data Privacy. No doubt most of them touting the virtues of Blockchain.

Inrupt is setting the way to being the people’s champion, but it doesn’t have to fall to Sir Tim alone. GDPR needs some more and some better champions, who will take protection seriously.

Watch your back, Big Data.

By: Simon Stokes

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