Use our personal data for the common good

Technology giants should take lessons from the Human Genome Project and be data stewards, not data owners, says Hetan Shah.

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Data science brings enormous potential for good — for example, to improve the delivery of public services, and even to track and fight modern slavery. No wonder researchers around the world have had their heads in their hands over headlines about how Facebook and the data-analytics company Cambridge Analytica might have handled personal data. We know that trustworthiness underpins public support for data innovation, and we have just seen what happens when that trust is lost. Much behind the outcry has been hiding in plain sight. Too many data companies’ business models are based on hoovering up our personal data and selling them. What can be done to restore trustworthiness? Social-media companies must do more than say sorry and vow to improve protections. They must adapt to ensure that data collected are used for the common good.

By Hetan Shah


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