Microsoft Is Working on a Data Bank to Allow Users to Protect Their Privacy

Posted on January 3, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Microsoft with 8 Comments

In the wake of all the controversy surrounding Facebook and its use of user data, Microsoft is working on a new project that will supposedly help users gain back control over their data. The new project, codenamed Bali, is what Microsoft is calling a personal data bank.

The idea behind the project is based on the concept of Inverse Privacy, first published by Microsoft researchers in 2014. The paper essentially states that your personal data is inversely private if a third-party has access and you, the original owner of the data, do not.

Project Bali wants to change that, by first letting you aggregate your personal data from various websites at the initial stage. The project will allow users to fetch the data from a range of websites, though it’s not clear exactly which websites are supported at the moment, and store them within the data bank that is Project Bali. Users will also be able to view the data.

In the future, though, Microsoft wants to give users more control over their data — so you will be able to control your personal data, share it, and even monetize it. The last part is quite a surprise, and it would be interesting to see exactly how Microsoft plans on letting users earn money by monetizing their personal data, especially considering all the controversy surrounding companies using people’s data to make money from advertising.

ZDNet reported that Project Bali currently requires an access code to work, and Microsoft is yet to officially announce the project. A Twitter user, who first spotted the new project, stated that the project can “delete all your connections and account information”.

Project Bali is is available as a private beta, and it’s likely Microsoft will take its time to make things official as privacy is a highly sensitive matter at the moment. We will make sure to let you know once things do become public, however.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Is Working on a Data Bank to Allow Users to Protect Their Privacy”

  1. Avatar

    ReformedCtrlZ

    I feel like this has really great potential, given developers buy into it. Giving end users control of what data is collected and then given gives the consumer a more positive feeling towards their data and giving them the choice of how much to give out gives a sense of control. Part of the privacy issues are that most people just don't know what is being collected, so giving them a simple way to view that transparently would change that perspective.


    I could see myself and others even paying a decent amount for this service, and the monetisation would just be a way to offset the cost. If Microsoft can get the security and infrastructure right, I could see this project gaining enough traction and popularity to force many developers to buy into it.

  2. Avatar

    dcdevito

    I'll take GDPR Solutions for $200, Alex

  3. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    Bravo to Microsoft and to Microsoft Research. This is both valuable and innovative and helps actual users rather than the attempts by other corporations to justify their abuse of their users with "We're not the worst so praise us for abusing you less than the maximum we could figure out".

  4. Avatar

    nevadah

    At first blush, "monetizing" your personal data sounds somewhat similar to what you currently can do with Google Rewards. You answer some questions, they give you money. Though what I envision is something that allows you to sign into the Bali website and see requests for data which you can choose to fulfill for compensation. These requests could either be general requests put out by companies or individuals, or requests made specifically to you by entities with which you have an existing relationship, or which you've given permission to receive by filling out a profile which is used to segment you into populations which receive the requests.


    Assuming it works the way I would hope it will, the differentiator with what we normally see today is that you are the one initiating the sharing of the data and knowing exactly who it is going to. You have to take a specific action to initiate the sharing with the knowledge of who you're sharing it with.

  5. Avatar

    mattbg

    I think "monetizing" can be taken at least two ways.


    1. You are paid for use of your data.
    2. You can use a service offering at no charge or a reduced charge in exchange for the use of all or some of your data (or optionally pay for the service without monetizing your data).


  6. Avatar

    christian.hvid

    This is an excellent idea in theory, but I can't help but wondering how long it will take before politicians demand back-door access to your personal data vault, all in the name of fighting terrorism (a.k.a. copyright infringement).

  7. Avatar

    waethorn

    "We're giving users control over their privacy" means they're actually not.


    Seriously, does anybody believe tech companies when they say this anymore?

  8. Avatar

    justme

    This has almost zero chance of success. Personal data is worth far too much to tech companies. Besides, this is Microsoft - they may start this, but when the topic is no longer shiny and new, they will move on.

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