For many people optimistic about the future of technology, the recent innovations of Metaverse, NFTs, and the prospect of digital ownership can be exciting. However, issues are starting to arise from these innovations regarding the privacy of people’s personal information. Brittany Kaiser, the co-founder of the Own Your Data Foundation, spoke at the 2023 SXSW session titled “Own Your Data: Empowering Our Digital Future,” where she discussed the legal and technology solutions to those problems.

Kaiser began by noting that we’re at the tip of the iceberg regarding the big data crisis. “We are producing exponentially more data every single day,” she said. “What that means is that the issues we’re dealing with today only become more exasperated as more of these advanced products and data science, artificial intelligence, and robotics continue to be released day by day.”

During the session, she explained that people need digital trust and discussed five points to make that happen:

  • Transparency—people want to know where their data is going, who will be able to access it, and what they will do with it.
  • Consent—although someone might give consent to share their data, other aspects of personal data may be attached to the access you are allowing to share (for example, shopping habits that may reveal an ill older person).
  • Accountability—often it is not possible to tell if data was transferred, shared, or deleted.
  • Ownership—individuals don’t own their data; instead, the government or companies collect the information.
  • Sustainability—ensuring the process of processing large amounts of data is sustainable and not relying on fossil fuels is one of the most significant conversations in technology.

She went on to discuss digital literacy. “Until we get to the federal level, corporations are still going to make the decisions about how our data is used in [the United States], which is why digital literacy is so important,” Kaiser said. “We still need to know how to protect ourselves because we still have quite a way to go.”