We continually observe that consumer data is often being spread and registered more or less legally. Tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, or other mobile apps and browser extensions constantly track our online behavior, collect our data and exploit them for marketing purposes. Cases such as Cambridge Analytica and the story of political activist Edward Snowden have shown us how the use of our data by multinational web companies strongly impacts the civil, political and economic rights of citizens. However, data protection, besides being a primary civil, economic and political right, is able to generate new business models. Through tokenization and blockchain, they can guarantee, at the same time, a remuneration for the purchase and sale of data to the data-holders, and greater transparency on their treatment, in accordance also with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Daniele Marinelli says – check out his blog posts on Dt Coin, Big Data, Dt Socialize, Crypto.

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal

One of the biggest scandals in the tech world was the one of Cambridge Analytica, which had collected the personal data of eighty-seven million Facebook accounts without their consent and had used it for political purposes, in particular to influence election campaigns. Specifically, this British consulting firm combined data mining (i.e., the set of techniques and methodologies that have as their object the extraction of useful information from large amounts of data), data brokering and data analysis with strategic campaign communications.  That scandal led to a greater need for public awareness about the value of their personal data. Since then, not only has Facebook’s company stock dramatically plummeted, but there has also been a need for stricter regulation on the use of personal data by tech giants. This necessary change in perspective has been further promoted thanks to series like “The Social Dilemma” that have had the merit of raising awareness among millennials as well as the so-called Generation Z. So let’s look, from a regulatory perspective, what is happening in the world of personal data management.

The economic value of users personal data

In the age in which we live, there is an increasing use of digital technology and distance contracts. For this reason, the European legislator together with national legislators have moved to establish rules to protect both the data subject and the consumer. In this direction, in a recent judgment, it was stated that the economic value of user data requires the professional, i.e. Facebook (in the case cited above), to inform the consumer that the information derived from such data will be used for commercial purposes beyond the use of the social network: in the absence of adequate information, or in the case of misleading statements, the practice put in place may therefore qualify as misleading. The first sanctioned conduct does indeed have this character, as the “claim” used by Facebook in the registration page to entice users to sign up (“Sign up, it’s free and it will be free forever”) suggests the absence of a counter-performance required of the consumer in exchange for the use of the service. The practice was sanctioned due to the incompleteness of the information provided, which in the face of the “claim” of “free” service did not allow the consumer to understand that the professional would then use the user’s data for remunerative purposes, pursuing a commercial intent.

We can therefore understand that the data constitutes, in fact, also the possible object of a sale between market operators and/or between these and the interested parties (/consumers). Therefore, data is increasingly becoming a ‘commodity’ or, as some claim, an ‘exchange currency’.

DTSocialize Holding: what is it and how does it work?Just in line with the latest decisions regarding the consideration of data as an “exchange currency”, it is interesting to note the activity of Dtsocialize Holding. This Italian firm is aiming precisely at the creation of a system that provides recognition to the user, based on the quantity and quality of data generated by the use of its applications and services. Daniele Marinelli’s DTSocialize uses some of the most advanced technologies (such as advanced cryptography typical of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and artificial intelligence for big data analysis) and integrates them in new messaging apps and browser extensions that aim at capturing user data. Among the next projects, there is also the imminent launch of a new social media in augmented reality, realized thanks to the close collaboration with an Italian company that has spent years in the research and development of augmented reality software. The DTCircle ecosystem (this is the name of the entire ecosystem that includes most of DTSocialize Holding activities) aims at selling products and services based on the sale of data generated by users of the same products and services. In these applications, the user decides whether to share or not his data. If he decides to share his data with the company, he will be paid through a system token that can be used in the ever-increasing number of businesses. Otherwise, if the user decides not to share his data, he can still count on anonymity thanks to the fact that DTSH apps use the same cryptographic protocol as Bitcoin. In both cases, therefore, these services are distinguished by the freedom and transparency offered to consumers, in terms of their choice to participate in the ‘data economy’.