“In the future it will be possible to donate our personal data to charitable causes.” This is the view shared by Anya Skatova and James Goulding of Nottingham University, England, published in The Conversation. They hold the belief that given many people already donate precious resources such as money or even blood for the benefit of society at large, “the time is approaching when we could liberate data in support of good causes.”
Recent research that Skatova and Goulding have conducted has found that “around 60% of people are willing to donate their data for uses that will benefit the public.” An impressive amount, but it will come of no surprise that this question of donated data raises as many issues as it could solve, including:
- Would people give their data away knowing that researchers will examine it, even if anonymously?
- Would they want others scrutinizing their diet, or their shopping habits?
- Would people feel their privacy was being invaded, even if they had chosen to donate to help medical research?
These issues demonstrate that donating data is vastly more complicated than simply donating blood. When you combine this with the fact that “there have been so many reports of loss or misuse of personal data it’s hardly surprising some are reluctant to give theirs away. Trust is key.”
Ultimately, we all know that “companies leverage personal data to make money because it provides them with sophisticated understanding of consumer behavior, from which they in turn can profit.” So to echo the thoughts and questions of Skatova and Goulding, “shouldn’t our data benefit us too?”