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The Open Identity – DataPortability

Posted by John Horniblow on Mar 13, 2009 in General, Online Media, Social Media Marketing, User experience |

 
dataportability

“To help people to use and protect the data they create on networked services, and to advocate for compliance with the values of DataPortability.”
Dataportability.org –  Mission statement  

I think that one of the most important and interesting projects to come too light over the past 18 months has to be the DataPortability project. I can’t think of a more defining project that seeks to put the consumer  in control of their data,   in an easy framework,  than this.

As a digital marketer, online developer  and manager of a major “ecosystem” of company websites I had always been challenged by and worked to successfully remedy the idea of a federated user login and password  or identity that  would allow users navigating a network or an “ecosystem”of websites to have just one unique ID. This unique ID  allowing  them access across a network , without having to login as multiple different identities across multiple sites and let them negotiate and choose or personalize what’s important to them and then manage their preferences.

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Lets face it the majority of us have a number of identities in a myriad of web databases ; As a consumer  I  possibly over one hundred “sign ups” on sites where I have an identity or have surrendered my contact details for either verification of who I am , membership, product registration,  interest in a communication, a CRM activity, a  social network identity , or just a security login and password .  If I was able to simplify this and manage that in a more organised and less haphazard way I would. 

The concept of  DataPortability is having the option or choice to use your personal data between trusted applications and vendors. As  simple as that . What is important , especially in the current digital climate , is the protection of consumers rights when it comes to their data and data privacy. The consumers need to have control over their data by determing how they want to use it and who can use it. This includes access to data that is under the control of another entity and the interoperability of  that consumer identity or data across an independent network of  online services and sites. What will become important in the not too distant future,  is the potential trust rating between the consumer and the companies providing online or digital services , media, and product marketing. Companies with the most transparent , upfront and honest approach to managing consumer data will ultimately be successful. Those whose integrity is questionable or not transparent will ultimately see a consumer backlash. 

With raging debates taking place as to just how far companies such as Google own the insight to online  behaviours by tracking consumer browsing habits from site to sites by cookie-ing them, the concept of DataPortability in extremely timely and necessary .  Its scary to think that Google can pinpoint and locate with uncanny precision a physical person and have a map of all their behavioural characteristics and that they have been known in the past to surrender that information to government security and intelligence agencies.
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With Social networks and the spill over to media networks becoming more open , more interconnected , and more distributed I would say that DataPortability is not an emerging trend but an imminent or inevitable necessity. The current list of  sponsors is impressive  Microsoft, Google, Facebook, SixApart, Digg, Plaxo, Linkedin and apparently 1000s of other participants. Interestingly it includes the two digital darlings,  Facebook and Google,  that appear to be at the centre of debates surrounding consumer data , who owns it , who controls it , and how it can be exploited, with both companies getting into hot water either by government privacy watchdogs or with their userbase themselves. With the support of cross-system data access, interoperability, and portability, people can bring their identities, friends, conversations, files, and histories with them to the service of their choice. This cuts down on the need for form-filling , new passwords, preferences  of data transfer on the consumer side. The service providers or networks can tailor services to suit their consumer base with little effort required by the consumer. Consumers  browse networked services and accumulate experiences and if they permit it, this information is  updated in the network of sites a consumer may participate in. For online and digital service  companies the “mutual control” and “mutual benefit” with consumers has an upside that the  relationships remain relevant, data usage remains transparent  and will encourage continued consumer usage.

For more information go to DataPortability.org 

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