Personal Data Gentrification

Juan Luis Herrera, Javier Berrocal, Jose Garcia-Alonso, Juan Manuel Murillo, Hsiao-Yuan Chen, Christine Julien, Niko Mäkitalo, Tommi Mikkonen

We live in an era in which the most valued services are not paid for in money, but in personal data. Every day, service providers collect the personal information of billions of individuals, information that sustain their infrastructure by marketing profiles labeled with this information to personal data consumers, such as advertisers. Not all uses of this personal data are for marketing; data consumers can also include, for instance, public health authorities tracking pandemics. In either case, individuals have undergone a process of Personal Data Gentrification, as data ownership has shifted from individuals to service providers and data consumers, as if the data is worth nothing to the individuals; these new owners then harness the data to obtain large profits. Current privacy-enhancing technologies are beginning to allow individuals to control and share less information. However, not sharing individuals' personal information at all could lead to Personal Data Blight, in which the potential of personal data in applications that benefit all of society remains forever latent. In this paper, we propose Personal Data Enfranchisement as a middle ground, empowering individuals to control the sharing of their personal information to shift the business flows of personal information. Based on these insights, we propose a model to gradually and incrementally make a shift from our current situation towards one of Personal Data Enfranchisement. Finally, we present a roadmap and some challenges towards achieving this bold vision.

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