New WST White Paper on Privacy

Law has granted individuals some rights over the use of data about them, but data protection rights have not redressed the balance between the individual and the tech giants. A number of approaches aim to augment personal rights to allow individuals to police their own information space, facilitating informational self-determination. This reports reviews this approach to privacy protection, explaining how controls have generally been conceived either as the use of technology to aid individuals in this policing task, or the creation of further legal instruments to augment their powers. It focuses on two recent attempts to secure or support data protection rights, one using technology and the other the law. The former is called Solid, a decentralised platform for linked data, while the latter is a novel application of trust law to develop data trusts in which individuals’ data is managed by a trustee with the individuals as beneficiaries. The report argues that structural impediments make it hard for thriving, diverse ecosystems of Solid apps or data trusts to achieve critical mass – a problem that has traditionally haunted this empowering approach.