Data protection has been front and centre of many recent debates, from the legal, to the political and even the moral.
As anyone with an email inbox can’t have failed to notice, companies are falling over themselves to comply with the new EU regulation, on general data protection, known as GDPR.
Despite the legal opinion that much of the consent that companies are asking for is already implied, most of us have been receiving emails at a rate of dozens a day.
We look at how recent developments could make you not only more aware of your rights around your data, but how you can turn it to your advantage.
The value of data
GDPR has many benefits to the average consumer, explains Callum Murray, founder and CEO of encryption specialists Amiqus ID.
He told the Scotsman: “Personal information is valuable like other assets, it’s commonly bought, sold, sometimes stolen and until recently, mostly taken for granted.
“GDPR has brought some focus on the trust rights of consumers to take ownership and control of their own information.”
“That might mean unsubscribing or requesting removal of your data from lots of places (you never knew had access to your information) you don’t trust.”
In practical terms, this means that companies can no longer withhold your data, and you have an inalienable right to access it, and crucially, move it.
If you want to move from one service provider to another, for example, the right to data portability works in tandem with the right to access to allow you to view your data.
Arguably, data portability is the most crucial element of GDPR, and is certainly most crucial to allowing you to benefit from access to your data.
Callum Murray said: “GDPR means information is becoming more portable.
“The right to data portability (article 20 within the GDPR) means that banks and other professional services are opening up to let you reuse your financial data and related information.
“This could mean, in consumer terms, that to time consuming and paper based processes like applying for a mortgage, moving home or renting property, are simplified.”
In terms of gaining access to your data, individuals simply need to make a subject access request verbally or in writing, to the organisation you want to hand over your data.
It is important to remember that these organisations, known as data controllers (for example, a business you buy from) cannot charge a fee for access, and have a month to respond to your request as a data subject.
Making money from your data
One of the important things to remember about the services that you use on the internet (even social networks) may be free at the point of use, but there is still a transaction taking place.
You are allowing services access to your data, which they often sell on to third parties, or use to target advertising.
With more and more people (soon to ideally be most people thanks to the implementation of GDPR) becoming aware of their own rights when it comes to data, there has been a rise of ‘data brokers’ who offer to intercede on your behalf to ensure you can make money from your data.
One of these services is DataWallet, in which you sell individual reports (that are stripped of personal identifiers like email address and name) to companies.
Engel, the maker of the app, has been quoted in a number of outlets as saying that the typical amount per report is around £5, but that more frequent use could result in higher payments.
DataWallet is arguably the most prominent data broker, but there are more and more springing up as data continues to soar in value.
From the point of view of companies, the data you willingly sell them will always be of a higher quality than that bought from a third party or as part of a huge tranche.
As more of us rely on digital products and services, it has become an inescapable fact that many companies can make money from your data.
With the new rules making your own data more available, and more portable, why not make some money yourself?