Home Who Will Control Your Data in the Web 3.0 World?

Who Will Control Your Data in the Web 3.0 World?

“Imagine what your cell phone could know [about you],” pondered Sandro Hawke (Semantic Web Developer, W3C), at the Web 3.0 Conference and Expo in Santa Clara, CA this week.

“It hears everything that’s going on around you; it knows where you are, it knows the motion of your body, it sees what’s in front of it, it knows your contacts, and it hears your phone calls”. Imagine the possibilities.

Unfortunately, the opportunities that Web 3.0 offers are also seen as part of the fundamental reason most people fear it. While they realize that much of their personal information is already out there, the fact remains that no one really has any way of knowing where this information is stored or who controls it; and this can be frightening.

Certainly the fear of the unknown is a concept we are all familiar with. Hawke suggests we can only get past this, and move onto the many new opportunities Web 3.0 offers, if we find a good way to control all of that data.

But where would we start? According to Hawke, the basic requirements would be a clear, robust and simple-as-possible model that is based on consensus rights and responsibilities, making everything predictable for all parties, and gives shared control to the originating parties. While he admits that this would still not be risk free, it certainly seems to be a great starting point in a move towards Web 3.0.

The Advantages and Issues Surrounding Data Portability

Daniela Barbosa (co-founder of the DataPortability Project) began her presentation with a video that shows why most of us suffer from network fatigue, and why it is imperative that we have control of our own personal data.

DataPortability – Connect, Control, Share, Remix from Smashcut on Vimeo.

According to Barbosa, the biggest hurdle is convincing vendors to unlock their information. While most users can see the benefits of data portability, the majority of vendors only have questions:

  1. Why would a vendor allow users to leave their service?
  2. Why make it easy for users to take the precious data you have about them and use it on other sites?
  3. What is the business justification and risks for letting data walk out the door.

Her answer to these questions is that businesses are effectively losing out. “Is it really worth it to lock in your users data? Because, you only get a piece of their [users] information.”

An important point: When users sign up to new services they generally set up their accounts once, so any friends they add to other services at a later date, won’t be shared across all services. As a vendor, you have no way of knowing about any new information on other services, unless the user updates the information manually across all accounts – and really, how many people do that?

Monetizing Your Data

Michael Benedek (Vice President, AlmondNet) begins his presentation with a quote by Imran Khan, Internet analyst, JPMorgan:

More than 80% of online inventory currently sells for less than $1 CMP. This means many page views are meaningless to advertisers unless user information can be gathered and ads are targeted. In order to most effectively target the ads, publishers need to have access to user behavior on multiple sites to collect data and to repeatedly show ads to the same user.

“We all know that Internet ad spending is booming; advertisers like it because there is measurability and targetability,” Benedek said, “yet, the vast majority of ads on the Internet are really not targeted. For instance, I’m from Canada and I can’t vote in the United States, but all I see lately are ads about Obama.”

Benedek believes there are tremendous opportunities available with Web 3.0 to leverage the data available and to deliver more targeted ads, but there are many issues to consider:

Privacy Issues

  • Role of Government: Industry Self Regulation vs. Government Regulation
  • Technology: Deep Packet Inspection vs. adware vs. 1st party cookies vs. 3rd party cookies
  • Types of Data: Personally Identifiable Information (PII) vs. merged PII/non PII vs. sensitive non PII vs. non PII
  • Notice and consent: Opt-in (PII) vs. opt-out (Non PII)

Business Issues

  • Standardization: Who is an auto intender?
  • Scalability: Opt-in (impractical) vs. opt-out (practical when non PII is collected/shared)
  • Data Ownership: Advertiser (3rd party ad server/cookie) vs. publisher vs. consumer


Web 3.0 still seems to have a way to go, and there are still debates about its meaning, but we expect the ride will be interesting. Do we follow the recommendations of the W3C and look for a common standard; do we want the ability to share our data across networks as recommended by the DataPortability Workgroup, or do accept that advertising is here to stay and help businesses target us better as recommended by AlmondNet?

Who do you want to be in control of your data?

ReadWriteWeb is a media sponsor of the Web 3.0 Conference & Expo

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