Microsoft tests new personal data bank, Project Bali

Project Bali is Microsoft's attempt to give users greater control of their data and prevent what it refers to as "inverse privacy"

4Jan

Microsoft has begun testing its latest creation aimed at giving internet users greater control of their personal data online. Project Bali, which is yet to officially launch, is described as a "new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them".

The decision to begin the project stemmed from a paper released by Yuri Gurevich, Efim Hudis and Jeannette Wing, three computer scientists who worked at Microsoft in 2014. The paper titled "Inverse Privacy", addressed what they viewed as a disturbing trend happening with regards to people's personal data and how they thought it may be remedied.

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"We say that an item of your personal information is private if you have it but nobody else does," the paper explained. "It is inversely private if somebody has it, but you do not. We analyze the provenance of inverse privacy and argue that technology and appropriate public policy can reduce inverse privacy to a minimum."

As a result, Microsoft Research, the firm's R&D arm, launched an "incubation project" codenamed Project Bali. It is an invite-only platform aimed at giving users greater transparency of their data – at the cost of allowing Microsoft access to some of their personal information.

"With Project Bali, we propose a new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them," explained Project Bali. "The bank will enable users to store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them. It will allow the user to visualize, manage, control, share and monetize the data.

"We are still in initial stage. In this stage, we are focused on helping the user aggregate personal data from various websites and have an ability to view the data," it added.

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