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To Protect Your Privacy, Hand Over Your Data


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A new proposal from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Human Dynamics Laboratory suggests that digital identities would be more secure if they were based on data collected from "reality mining," which studies how people behave using the digital data produced by computerized activities.

MIT researcher Alex Pentland says that researchers and corporations have already realized the potential for reality mining, and argues that if people were to gain control over their own personal data mines they could use that information to prove who they are or inform smart recommendation systems. Pentland believes that allowing access to that data is safer than relying on key-like codes and numbers, which can be stolen or faked. He proposes creating a central body — supported by cell phone networks, banks, and the government — that would manage a data identity system. Banks could provide pieces of data to a third party running a check on a person's identity, and individuals could use their own data for services such as apps on a smartphone.

Pentland says such a system would be far more powerful than existing recommender systems. He has been working to alleviate concerns over using personal data as an identification system, and has gotten the Harvard Law Lab and the World Economic Forum to develop and support the idea. He says 70 other industry partners have expressed interest and will be asked to test a design for the system.

From New Scientist
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