There is an assumption thrust upon us by digital service providers that our data is not our own to use. Indeed, we willingly agree (and blindly, because we click the ‘agree’ button without reading T&Cs) that the trade-off for using a service or app is that the provider has access to our data. Which is why you need a HAT, according to the UK based University of Warwick and others.
The HAT (Hub of All Things) is under the control of Professor Irene Ng, who believes that “now is the time to wake people up to just how much personal data they pour online and empower them to use that data to benefit them as much as its benefiting the businesses that are harvesting it.”
The project is founded on the idea that our data is valuable, so we should be able to benefit from that value. If we control our data – and more importantly control it in one place – then we are able to unlock its value. In fact, if all our data is one place, we have a complete view of our online lives that we can trade with digital service providers – at least we can offer them a profile that is rounded and complete. At the moment we are offered services based on fractured, warped views of our digital lives, normally through a Facebook or Google lens.
If we can control it, then we have better control over our privacy and will be better placed to ‘trade’ with the digital service providers who have pushed us into believing that it is not even up for discussion whether we get value out of our own data or not. If we don’t take control, and if other, powerful entities so wish, our data will be anything but our own. And we will be judged by our digital lives.
It is, perhaps, a step further than the example cited by Theo Priestley at a recent IoT conference. Why not buy your own telematics machine, says Priestley, and broker its data amongst insurance companies to get the best deal?
It is also, perhaps, a more considered move than the range of products that are appearing, designed to keep your online movements private. Examples include a new browser called Brave, and another product called Redmorph Browser Controller, both of value right now.
Whether or not the HAT might mean that advertisers will be able to serve us with such intuitive, personalized services that we switch off our ad-blockers remains to be seen.
The next step for the HAT Foundation is to ‘scale-up the HAT ‘ecosystem’ and community of users, to promote widespread take-up of HATs by individuals. Sign up here.
Whatever happens to the HAT, and whether or not we all get one, we can only look forward to the vast number of puns and plays on words that such an initiative will generate. It only remains to be said that if the HAT fits, wear it. No pun intended, of course!