Did you know that you can log in to your internet router at home and see how many devices are actually connected to your WiFi network? I have a family of five (a relatively large family in this day and age) but I was completely shocked to learn that we have more than 30 connected devices in our home – not just tablets, phones, and watches, but also solar panels, TVs, speakers, and even our fridge. Yes, our fridge.

It begs the question – who’s listening and what are they doing with our data?

Rather worryingly, the answer is a lot.

A recent Washington Post experiment found 5,400 app trackers sending data from a typical iPhone. These are a lot like cookies on web browsers that enable targeted advertising and the ability to collect user information. But whilst accepting or declining cookies has become a standard user experience on the Internet, these app trackers work behind the scenes and often without your knowledge.

App trackers include tools to help brands measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns – such as Google Ads – and others are used to improve performance or customer service. But then there are app trackers that are devised simply to make money by selling your personal data to the highest bidder.

The clever part of these trackers is that they are programmed to start delving into our data lives when we are fast asleep. That’s because they are triggered by the ‘background app refresh’ that is a default setting on most mobile devices and usually happens when a phone is plugged in to charge.

Thankfully, therefore, most of our data woes can be easily fixed by simply adjusting our privacy and location settings. Assuming we knew to do that in the first place (…you’re welcome).

 

 

 

But for me, it raised a bigger question around the sharing of data and how it might be better controlled.

The real solution to the future of data protection is transparency

It makes ideological sense that, if we know where our data is going and how it’s being used, then we can control it. This is a cornerstone of Open Banking and, in Australia at least, part of a bigger regulatory shift with the Consumer Data Rights Act.

It’s also vital to make sure that data can be easily audited. At Split, we adopt a methodology called Event Source data – a persistent and sequential record of events that is kind of like blockchain in that a data record cannot be changed – but kind of unlike blockchain because data is centralised and encrypted with financial-grade security.

The important thing to understand is that if data can be curated in such a way that it empowers people to achieve better outcomes (irrespective of whether those outcomes are financial or social) then businesses and service providers can provide real value. The vital framework, however, is to ensure the right levels of security and transparency are in place to create that value.

Data has always been important to us at Split, because it is such a valuable commodity that can reimagine what a transaction looks like in the future.