The Personal Data and Trust Network

The Personal Data and Trust Network

By Dr Jerome Ma

Launched in 2007, Google Map’s Street View feature has provided a wonderful resource for house hunters, restaurant goers, lost office workers and even Loch Ness monster enthusiasts.

A wonderful resource that is, until people started recognising themselves doing something they would prefer not to be seen doing – entering a strip club, attending abortion rallies or climbing naked out of a car boot. As a result Google has since been plagued with privacy battles concerning its Street View feature in Switzerland, the UK, France, Australia, Germany, Canada, South Korea – the list goes on.

As more of our lives move online and more of our world is ‘sensor-ed’ up, these Street View incidents and numerous others like it raise important and fundamentally human questions about data collection and new technologies. How much of our personal data and privacy are we willing to compromise in exchange for potential benefits? How can people understand the potential uses of personal data and new technologies, how would they agree to these uses and how might they maintain control?

One view is that it comes down to establishing trust. Businesses, society, researchers and government need to work together transparently and openly to reach a consensus on and re-establish trust in what is being done, what could be and what should be done with our data.

The Personal Data and Trust Network launched earlier this year is an attempt at facilitating just that – supporting trust and responsible innovation with personal data by bringing together researchers with knowledge, businesses and SMEs with a vision and government/public sector organisations providing a voice for society.

To achieve this, the Network is focusing in its first year on convening events to build and nurture the community as well as creating an online resource consolidating emerging research and business insight on personal data allowing people with problems to find people who may have solutions.

The inaugural event in March 2015 initiated a discussion around what the starting focal themes for the Network should be. As a result eight community-led groups have been seeded focusing on producing insight in eight priority areas: Digital Identity; Economics; Corporate Transformation; Personal Information Management; Social Innovation;  Legal and Regulation; Design and Consent; Health & Social Care.

On 29 June, the Network will host its second event at the Digital Catapult aiming to connect a broad range of interests around personal data and healthcare including clinicians, businesses, researchers, policy makers and funders.

Finally the Network is actively working to establish its website as a resource for the latest research and guidance for personal data innovators and is inviting community produced content.

To find out more, please register your interest via the website and hopefully soon, in addition to celebrating a Data Privacy Day, we will also be able to celebrate a Data Trust Day.

Dr Jerome Ma is a Portfolio Manager at the EPSRC working within the Digital Economy Theme, which has invested over £170 million in Digital Economy research and skills since 2008. The EPSRC and Digital Economy Theme are founding partners of the Personal Data and Trust Network.