A while ago, I passed along a friend’s contact details to another person. The intent was good as I thought they would mutually benefit from knowing each other. In fact, I thought they’d hit it off. However, I didn’t ask my friend first, I liberally shared his details with the other. After the fact, I told my friend this and was greeted with an unexpected response:
‘I wish you would have asked me first.’
I apologised and we talked it out. And in the end they met up and hit it off as I had hoped. But the experience stuck with me.
Our contact details are shared without our knowledge regularly. Not only by family or friends with good intention, but more often by organisations and companies often with profit (for them) intention. Most of this happens without us realising it and some of it, we are fine with. However, some of it we are not fine with. We generally don’t like surprises especially when it comes to our personal data.
One of the promises of self-sovereign identity is that it can help with this as our personal data cannot be shared with others without our knowledge. I found the model above, taken from this paper, a helpful visualisation of this. Now, of course, a self-sovereign approach won’t solve everything, but perhaps it can help us think differently about how our data is shared and by whom.
In the end, it’s about data governance and those of us working with data and digital transformation can, and perhaps should, be asking more questions than we are.
The choice is up to us.