Open data, you and me

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Semantic Web

Data portability and open data are hot topics these months. The multiplication of social network sites has increased the aggregation of these data in silos. The Semantic Web activity encourages to open your data with a new series of cute logo. Geographical data such as the Open Street Map initiative, government budget such as USA are the trend. But when it comes to our personal data, we need more granularity.

Danny Ayers on Talis Web site talked about Data Licenses for Social Network Services. He frames the discussion with a basic rule:

I own my data. This would correspond more or less to the default copyright on documents - even if you don't say anything explicit on something you write, you have the copyright.

In the past (before the Web), when I shared my data with a friend or someone else, phone number, specific email address or local postal address, in some cases, I would make a point of saying: « Do not share these with someone else. » The trust relationship I have with the person made it obvious, without relying on a signed contract. The person would put it in her/his paper or computer address book. It was local data, viewed only by one person.

Then the Web arrived with many online services. You sign usually a contract between the online service and the usage of your data. It is your choice to decide what you accept from these services. But there is an additional issue. In your data, there are data which belong to other people. When you send the data to an online service, you might break a trust relationship. This person doesn't necessary want you to share your data with this online service.

The big change is that we all became provider and consumer of data with a responsibility in sharing them. All of us are a social network service with responsibilities.

How do we manage that? Recently Danny Weitzner (W3C) has posted an article on Reciprocal Privacy for the Social Web (a.k.a. FOAF). He mentionned in this article a document is working on: Reciprocal Privacy (ReP) for the Social Web. Read it, share it and comment it.

This is one of the big challenges for the years to come.

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