Data Ownership: Mine or Yours?

The idea for this post comes from a book I’ve read recently – The Digital Ape by Nigel Shadbolt and Roger Hampson.  It’s a thought-provoking analysis of our interaction and relationships with digital devices, how artificial intelligence is already in our lives and ethical questions we’ll need to consider.  And it also considers the vast array of data and the potential value of that – to us, as consumers, as well as to the obvious digital beasts whose names we can all rattle off.

It doesn’t address ownership of data in the financial services market but the read-across is clear and it got me thinking about how data is currently used by retail financial institutions and who owns it.  I’m aware of work being undertaken by a number of financial institutions to assess risk by reference to a very much wider set of data than has traditionally been the case, with access to products potentially being determined by the access customers give product providers to personal data.  This could include data on social media.

There’s concern about financial institutions not securing personal data held in respect of customers, whether customers give informed consent to use of their data for marketing or other purposes and (separately) the potential for financial exclusion in the absence of personal data.  But I’m not aware of anything the regulators are doing at this stage to consider who owns various types of data and controls data-use by financial institutions.

I suspect we shan’t see this as a hot topic for some time yet, but I’m flagging it as something for financial institutions to start thinking about.  It’ll come into the regulatory spotlight in the next few years – perhaps sooner if ownership of personal data gains traction.

 

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