What is Microsoft's Project Bali?

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 3, 2019

Data collection on the Internet is a one-sided deal for the most part: users reveal data willingly or unwillingly, and companies store the data, process it, and even share it without giving users much control over any of that.

While large Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, or Facebook attempt to please privacy advocates and governments when it comes to data collection, storing, and management, it is fair to say that users are not very much in control when it comes to their own data.

Microsoft Bali was revealed to the public earlier today by Mary Jo Foley on ZDNet. From what we know so far, it is a Microsoft Research project that is in private beta at the time.

microsoft bali privacy

Invited users may join Project Bali, and anyone else may request an invite code. Whether there is a chance for regular users to get in is unknown, but I would say it is slim.

So, what is Project Bali? The homepage does not reveal much but the About page offers some information on the project.

According to the description there, it is based on a privacy concept called Inverse Privacy mentioned in a Research Paper which anyone may access here. Inverse Privacy refers to personal information that is private to an individual but out of control of that individual.

Your interactions with various institutions -- employers, municipalities, financial institutions, health providers, police, toll roads operators, grocery chains, etc -- create numerous items of personal information, e.g., shopping receipts and refilled prescriptions

Due to progress in technology, institutions have become much better than you in recording
data. As a result, shared data decays into inversely private.

Companies, the government, and other individuals may own data that is valuable to the individual;

Project Bali tries to tackle Inverse Privacy through the creation of  a "new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them".  All data that belongs to a user should belong to that user according to the Project Bali description.

Project Bali allows users to "visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data". Bali offers the following properties according to the description:

It can be associated with a physical user through a verified identity
It is secure and trustworthy
It provides complete transparency into a user’s data
It ensures that a user’s data is not used without permission
It ensures that a user’s data is not misused

Nothing else is revealed about Project Bali at this point in time. Since it is a Microsoft Research project, there is a chance that it will never be integrated in Microsoft's ecosystem or made available to governments and companies. If third-parties would use something created by Microsoft would remain to be seen as well.

Closing Words

Whether Microsoft's Project Bali will become more than a research project remains to be seen. There is certainly demand from users when it comes to control over user data. A centralized option to view, manage, and delete all data that companies have on users would certainly be appreciated by many.

Now You: What is your take on Project Bali?

What is Microsoft's Project Bali?
Article Name
What is Microsoft's Project Bali?
Microsoft's Project Bali is an invite-only research project that attempts to deal with the issue of inverse privacy.
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  1. Some Dude said on March 19, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Are these articles AI generated?

    Now the duplicates are more obvious.

    1. boris said on March 19, 2023 at 11:48 pm

      This is below AI generated crap. It is copy of Microsoft Help website article without any relevant supporting text. Anyway you can find this information on many pages.

  2. Paul(us) said on March 20, 2023 at 1:32 am

    Yes, but why post the exact same article under a different title twice on the same day (19 march 2023), by two different writers?
    1.) Excel Keyboard Shortcuts by Trevor Monteiro.
    2.) 70+ Excel Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows by Priyanka Monteiro

    Why oh why?

    1. Clairvaux said on September 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

      Yeah. Tell me more about “Priyanka Monteiro”. I’m dying to know. Indian-Portuguese bot ?

  3. John G. said on August 18, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Probably they will announce that the taskbar will be placed at top, right or left, at your will.

    Special event by they is a special crap for us.

  4. yanta said on August 18, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    If it’s Microsoft, don’t buy it.
    Better brands at better prices elsewhere.

  5. John G. said on August 20, 2023 at 4:22 am

    All new articles have zero count comments. :S

  6. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 7:48 am

    WTF? So, If I add one photo to 5 albums, will it count 5x on my storage?
    It does not make any sense… on google photos, we can add photo to multiple albums, and it does not generate any additional space usage

    I have O365 until end of this year, mostly for onedrive and probably will jump into google one

  7. St Albans Digital Printing Inc said on September 5, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Photo storage must be kept free because customers chose gadgets just for photos and photos only.

  8. Anonymous said on September 5, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    What a nonsense. Does it mean that albums are de facto folders with copies of our pictures?

    1. GG said on September 6, 2023 at 8:24 am

      Sounds exactly like the poor coding Microsoft is known for in non-critical areas i.e. non Windows Core/Office Core.

      I imagine a manager gave an employee the task to create the album feature with hardly any time so they just copied the folder feature with some cosmetic changes.

      And now that they discovered what poor management results in do they go back and do the album feature properly?

      Nope, just charge the customer twice.

      Sounds like a go-getter that needs to be promoted for increasing sales and managing underlings “efficiently”, said the next layer of middle management.

  9. d3x said on September 5, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    When will those comments get fixed? Was every editor here replaced by AI and no one even works on this site?

  10. Scroogled said on September 5, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Instead of a software company, Microsoft is now a fraud company.

  11. ard said on September 7, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    For me this is proof that Microsoft has a back-door option into all accounts in their cloud.
    quote “…… as the MSA key allowed the hacker group access to virtually any cloud account at Microsoft…..”

    so this MSA key which is available to MS officers can give access to all accounts in MS cloud.This is the backdoor that MS has into the cloud accounts. Lucky I never got any relevant files of mine in their (MS) cloud.

  12. Andy Prough said on September 7, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    >”Now You: what is your theory?”

    That someone handed an employee a briefcase full of cash and the employee allowed them access to all their accounts and systems.

    Anything that requires 5-10 different coincidences to happen is highly unlikely. Occam’s razor.

  13. TelV said on September 8, 2023 at 12:04 pm

    Good reason to never login to your precious machine with a Microsoft a/c a.k.a. as the cloud.

  14. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    The GAFAM are always very careless about our software automatically sending to them telemetry and crash dumps in our backs. It’s a reminder not to send them anything when it’s possible to opt out, and not to opt in, considering what they may contain. And there is irony in this carelessness biting them back, even if in that case they show that they are much more cautious when it’s their own data that is at stake.

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