Sense Networks: You should own your data

Intel Capital has just invested $6 million in Sense Networks, co-founded by MIT prof Sandy Pentland. On their website “Principles” page, he takes a strong “you own your data” stance:

Sense Networks has deeply rooted principles that drive every business and technology decision. The company has built its systems from scratch to introduce the following new paradigm of data ownership and privacy.

People should own their own data
People should have full control over the use of any data that they generate. All data collection should be “opt-in,” and users should be able to easily remove themselves and their data from the system without questions or hassle. The system doesn’t “remember” a user for later, but completely deletes data at the user’s discretion.

People have a right to privacy
Sense Networks respects the privacy and anonymity of its users and requires no personally identifiable information to access its consumer applications. We never share specific user data with anyone. And we use best practices to ensure the safekeeping of the data we receive.

People should receive a meaningful benefit in exchange for sharing data
Meaningful benefits include compelling applications to help manage life better, or personalized services based on anonymous learning from “users like me.” People should be able to enjoy the benefits of these services simply in exchange for their data.

Aggregate anonymous location data should be used for common good
Sense Networks is working with thought leaders at institutions such as MIT and Columbia University to explore ways of leveraging aggregate, anonymous data for the common good. For example, we’re forging innovative partnerships with recycling companies that can use the data to more efficiently direct recycling resources to high activity locations in a given city.

This is about as strong a stance on this issue that a private company has taken, to my knowledge. Are some of these principles that Open Source Sensing should use as well? How do they interact with individuals’ “right to sense”? (Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists) —Chris Peterson

One Response to “Sense Networks: You should own your data”

  1. Another recent movement to the effect of “you own your data” is http://www.healthdatarights.org/, endorsed so far by almost 1,000 individuals and organizations (including me). Kevin Kelly has an interesting commentary on it here: http://www.kk.org/quantifiedself/2009/06/you-own-your-health-data.php

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