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Your Digital Self

The next phase of Your Digital Self

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Dear Your Digital Self-Community,

We’re delighted to tell you about the next phase of Your Digital Self!

Table of Contents

What happened after “Your Digital Profile”

Your Digital Profile gave us a unique insight. Yes, we each learned what data Germany’s largest Data Enrichment Company collects about us and about over 70 Million residents, but we learned something else that changed our view on the state of Personal Data globally dramatically.

We reached our target and collected €10.000 to build Your Digital Profile and many supporters added considerable donations to their pledge: people cared!
And then something interesting happened: Less than half of the supporters went online to complete the process and of those, only half ever logged in to look at the information.

We had to chew on that a bit, but slowly a picture started to emerge that we saw confirmed all around us: We care about the topic of personal data and we think something is wrong, but we personally don’t take action to change the way we behave online.

Why do we continue without change if we think it’s not right?

We became obsessed with this question, because we kept seeing it standing in the way of a change everywhere.
Projects that try to make things better for consumers and their data have a tendency to fail, amazing technical efforts and research struggle to catch the public eye but it feels like every second hollywood production is happy to joke about “technology companies own all our data”, which never fails to get more than its fair share of likes on Facebook.

The results we found are confrontational and hard to hear. But stay with us, we have a plan.

First the easy part: we’re comfortable.

The internet gives us a number of comforts. Easy communication with our friends, distracting pictures, easy navigation or a simple way to buy tickets. We know that these things are connected to the Data that we give in exchange for these comforts. We suspect, or even know, that the deal is not fair, but we don’t want to give up our comfort so we don’t dig too deep. And why would we?!

Second: the issue is too big

While the internet is a daily companion, how it actually works is a mystery for most people. What we do know is that parts are controlled by companies and institutions with impressive wealth and influence. While these companies make it easy for us to use the internet, they also dictate what we see, hear or read. It seems that for us to gain autonomy over our Digital Identity, so much needs to change!
It’s understandable to feel powerless against those odds.

Third: We’re hurt and we have lost trust.

Our digital selves are in a relationship where we feel something is not right, but we don’t know how we can get out. We know we’re not safe: we’ve been confronted with big headlines about millions of leaked accounts and profiles often enough. We know about the dangers of data theft. We’ve been told about micro-targeting and mass manipulation and we’ve been shocked about the documentaries every time.

And while I am typing this I am arranging with my friends to meet over a common messenger service that I know is not safe.
I will just leave this there for you to ponder about and decide how much of this applies to you personally. It’s onward and upward from here on: we’re looking for solutions, afterall!

Digital Dignity

“The value of our Digital Identities is far greater than the money that is being made with them.”

Now that the Internet is so common in our daily lives, we must realize that the online world is as much part of our lived experience as the analog world. There are two very important consequences that we must draw from there:

  1. The sum of our Personal Data is a complete recollection of our online experiences: it is our Digital Identity.
  2. Our Digital Identity is due that same inalienable right that we are all due as members of the human family: Dignity*. Digital Dignity is the sovereignty over your Digital Identity
    (* Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

To achieve dignity in our online world, we need to achieve these 3 things, one after the other.
Insight, Sovereignty and a way to make meaningful Connections between our Digital Identities.

Insight

We need to have easy options to get a complete overview of what information is available about us, either individually or as part of a group. We need to know who has that information and what, by right, they can do with it.

Sovereignty

We need non-invasive, user friendly tools to manage our fractured Digital Identities. In many countries we still need a safe legal structure protecting our ownership over our Digital Identities.

Connection

As individuals, we grow through our meaningful connections. Allow our Digital Selves to do the same. Access-rights based connections between Digital Identities will radically improve people’s lives for comfort, sharing, learning, to earn and to contribute to society.

Your Digital Self

The objective of Your Digital Self is now to include “Digital Dignity” in public discussions and construct workable models for companies to achieve Digital Dignity for their customers.

But more importantly, we are building a number of tools that can easily help you achieve a level of Dignity Dignity that you feel comfortable with. Dignity has no uniformal style so not all of the tools will be of interest to you but we are dedicated to building a toolkit with options for everyone. We likewise believe that Digital Dignity should be available to everyone and are planning to provide all tools and information with a “choose what you pay” concept.

Introducing: Persona

Persona masks your private email in online registrations, tells you who shared your data and increases your online security.
Find out more about our first tool here: https://your-digital-self.com/persona/

Since we aim to provide all tools and info for a voluntary contribution, we’re happy for any support you can give us while we work on the next development or publication. Check out https://your-digital-self.com to sign the charter, check out options if you want to join the cause or show your appreciation by making a donation.

Header Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Michiel Top
Michiel Top
While working on strategic positioning, marketing and sales programs for various companies, I was shocked again and again by how easily accessible private information actually is. Around 2017, when I was designing an online customer management system, it occurred to me how we could turn the tables. Then in mid-2020, when my own GDPR application to a well-known data enrichment company failed, I knew something had to be done.

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