Sir Tim Berners-Lee has declared that individual data ownership will be core to the future of the web, as corporations only waste data on "queasy" targeted advertising.
Speaking at the 2014 IP Expo, Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web, said that data is more valuable to people than it is to companies.
“The data that [businesses] have about you isn’t as valuable to them as it is to you,” he said.
“What are these people going to do with that data? They’re going to target you with an ad which makes you feel a bit queasy. Targeted adverts are not the future.”
Instead Berners-Lee believes that data is more useful under the ownership of individuals, who can use it to gain insights about their lives and activity.
Citing his use of location-tracking app Moves, Berners-Lee explained: “I have almost a year's worth of data from Moves. I can see how my exercise has gone up and down.
“In general, if you put together all that data, from my wearable, my house, from other companies like the credit card company and the banks, from all the social networks, I can give my computer a good view of my life, and I can use that. That information is more valuable to me than it is to the cloud.”
As such, Berners-Lee believes that individual ownership over data could be seen as “open data” that can be used for different purposes, approved or refused by the individual, rather than being kept in silos and under the control of companies.
He also said that companies collecting data on the public should give people more control over, and insight into, how it is used, as this could assuage many privacy concerns about handing over data.
“If you give [people] the ability to see how [data is] used and you ban its misuse then people are much more happy to open up to their data being used,” he concluded.
Berners-Lee's comments echo recent warnings that big business and governments are a threat to the internet, and he urged the creation of a digital Magna Carta to protect web citizens.
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