My Data is Mine

If you are not paying, you are the product. That is how social media companies make money by selling your behavior and preference data. To run a successful commercial campaign, you should start collecting first-hand data to build your audiences first. Digital marketing is getting more sophisticated and also very expensive. Digital marketing proves to be a good investment especially for those companies to survive Covid-19. But, you won’t be able to get amazing results with the same amount of budget like you used to if you don’t know how to adapt.

We generally believe that we own our personal data. That is a common consensus. Though, do we really own our data? Do we really know what it is worth? After we have all migrated to the smartphone era, data has been collected about all of us at every moment. Some of the data is on your mobile, tablet or laptop. Some of it is held by your favorite social media services, shopping platforms, free emailers, or search engines. All your data and digital footprints are interconnected across the channel and platform through your web browsers, Google Android or Apple devices in your arm’s length.  

Some of you may say “who cares?” Now, you should care about your data. Not because your data privacy is at risk, but your data can make money for you. There are several startup companies that will give you money to relay your data to advertisers. They allow individuals to get compensated for sharing anonymous and aggregated insights from their data. That is epic. If Facebook, Google, and Youtube can generate tons of money in online advertising with your data, then why not you? 

Some may argue that this scheme may sound like highly controversial “universal basic income”, but more precisely it is “universal basic data income.” Universal basic income would be prohibitively expensive and encourage people to leave their jobs. Dana Budzyn, a co-founder and CEO of UBDI (an abbreviation of universal basic data income), launched the first ethically-sourced data monetization program for individuals in the $50 billion market research industry in 2019 to transform data economy culture. Probably, she didn’t mean to go that far to give a solution to the job losses, economic or racial injustices that would be triggered by further automation and AI like many other prominent names in technology are pushing either universal basic income or guaranteed income as their favored cause.

The MyData project in Korea, primarily led by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) will create a new business opportunity by allowing collecting and analyzing personal data across the financial services. The Financial Services Commission ambitiously pushes it forward with the target launching date by the end of this year. The authority acknowledges that digital commerce platforms are not quite ready yet to jump on the wagon. However, if it expands to healthcare, transportation, digital commerce, social media, and advertisement, the impact will be huge. 

The law to assist consumers in exercising their data rights by obtaining opt-in consent before processing their sensitive data are essential prerequisites to make the MyData project successful. The amendments in three major data bills including the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), Network Act, and Credit Information Act in early 2020 paved the road for the MyData project. It will create a new business opportunity for those 28 companies that were granted with the license to get on the MyData project. 

Data privacy regulations will ban excessive marketing among participating entities, though, to keep their sanity. In addition, the officials have granted the licenses to only the large and established firms meeting their regulatory requirements. There are also few leading fintech firms participating such as Toss (Viva Republica), which is promising. More companies express their interest in the MyData project and we hope to see more creative ventures in the coming years. A more progressive approach to reduce regulatory barriers would be strongly recommended to accelerate the data economy.

China passed a major new data privacy law called PIPL (Personal Information Protection Law) in August, 2021, which is often compared to Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The new law will give only 2-3 months to get prepared for the corporations and the full text continues to evolve. All leading data privacy acts around the globe have some resemblance. It is like a double-edged sword. It provides greater protection as well as rights to individuals. This much needed law and regulation would alter how businesses handle the information. Even if it is burdening for the corporations and any organizations to comply with new rules, there can be a real opportunity. 

Data can be a strategic asset. It can be an opportunity to propel business in utilizing, managing data and realizing strategic and commercial values out of data. The future of data ownership belongs to you. There will be more companies that help you discover where your personal data is and manage your digital footprints. You are in the driver’s seat deciding where your data should or shouldn’t be used by letting only companies that you trust can use your data, monetize it, and give a fair share back to you. 

Data is the new oil is the clear statement coined by Clive Humby, a British mathematician and entrepreneur. Data economy will be defined by the global data ecosystem and governance efforts on how companies monetize and evolve crucial data assets. Whether it is radical transformation or day-dreaming, more young innovators would come and make it happen with their entrepreneurial push. The government should set the boundary, not act as a bottleneck. One thing that does not change is that my data was, is, and will be mine.