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.
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.
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?Advertisement
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.