For three years we have been working together with great research partners of the RWTH Aachen (COMSYS, CommScience and FIR), jurists (FSDS of the Goethe University Frankfurt a. M.) and industrial partners (synaix , formitas and aixtema) to explore the true value of data for the Internet user. The project was successfully completed a few weeks ago.

We have learned a lot about privacy and data sovereignty – and how sensitive data in different categories is. For example, respondents classify market research data less sensitively than financial or health data. But also regarding the question of who should have access to their own data, the answer of the users is very clear. If we look at health data, they are often shared with science, but not with commercial or pharmaceutical companies.

How worthy of protection is the name of your pet?

We were also able to uncover some contradictions that many people are probably not aware of. In this sense, a simple exercise in three questions:

  1. Have you ever assigned a password yourself?
  2. Do you have a pet?
  3. Did the pet ever occur in a password?

Most people with pets will answer “yes” three times. And behold: the information, as one’s own pet is called, belongs to the category of rather insensitive information. Obviously, there’s no danger of anyone knowing. The password, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite, namely very sensitive information. If you are interested in the complete list of sensitivity of information, take a look at the graph (in German).

Not for nothing do experts recommend that neither your own name nor pet name be used as a password, because they are too easy to “decrypt”.

What can companies do to increase trust?

There is a lot of education on data sovereignty, but there is also a lot of catching up to do to understand and respond to users’ needs. The mere fact that data can be collected technically and – depending on the scenario – legally permissible is not a justification for doing so to an unlimited extent. It is a question of trust to inform transparently about the extent of the data collection and it is required to meet the customer at an eye level. The “data business” is predominantly viewed critically by consumers, which is why a productive education can only lead to a stable customer relationship if it is positive.

More detailed scientific background information can be found in the publications of the project, e.g. here

In the context of practice you will also find a lot about the topic in my book (in German): The future is human.

General information

Information about the project: Dialego page Project page

Blog Post Privacy: Which data is most sacred to people?

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