Is your digital “data dust” being used for good or evil?

February 26 2021

A recent Gartner article piqued my interest – it mentioned how some insurers are offering to reduce your car insurance premiums if you allow your driving style to be tracked. What happens if you take this offer up and you don’t always drive in a manner your insurer approves of? Do you lose the offered discount, or does it increase your premium renewal? Will the insurer use that data to derive a view on your safety or influence any claims decisions in the future? Can this data be shared with law enforcement or other agencies?

The GDPR regulations have made companies examine what data they hold on individuals and why they should store it; but it does not cover every eventuality. Individuals are starting to pick up on this notion, evident from the current exodus from WhatsApp as users take issue with the collection and sharing of behaviour and contact data etc. The phrase “digital dust” is a good analogy to how much of a trace we leave behind in our internet activities that might be of commercial, or more sinister, benefit to someone.

The Office of National Statistics has been making use of smart phone mapping direction requests and movement information to understand the amount people travel during lockdowns. Whilst this use case is anonymous and for the good of all, other organisations may also track you and many people have little or no understanding on how to limit what data your device shares.

Today’s data tracking is just the tip of the iceberg. The ongoing adoption of Internet of Things devices is adding to the universe of behavioural information that will become available to those who look. How we use our intelligent cars, what food our smart fridge orders for us, what temperature we run our bath using our smart thermostat; everything that we do, and don’t do, in the digital world becomes shareable data. The list is growing by the day but the way we relate to this information, or dust, is not keeping pace and we may unwittingly be leaving behind fingerprints that are more open to exploitation than just hacked accounts and passwords.

On the more positive side of this, there is a massive opportunity for all of us to understand how we can harvest this digital dust within regulatory limits and ethical values, and to apply innovative and responsible solutions to benefit those who “dust” and protect those who leave a mess behind them.

I’ve been involved with some fascinating projects at  Leading Resolutions, helping organisations to understand, manage, govern and leverage the data which they have access to. Using transformative Artificial Intelligence or machine learning technologies to help clients digitise interactions, creating frameworks to hold and use data within ethical policy guidelines to drive business growth whilst keeping organisations safe in the regulatory minefield. Would love to share some of these insights with you – contact me to find out more.

Note from the Author

Al Oecken

Let me know your thoughts and by all means, get in touch with me on LinkedIn / email with your comments and any questions.
I’d love to hear how you are responding to your digital data needs and of course answer any questions you may have.