UPDATED 19:14 EST / JANUARY 03 2019

project-bali BIG DATA

Microsoft working on tool called Project Bali to give web users control over their data

Researchers at Microsoft Corp. are working on a new privacy tool that would give users the ability to control what happens to the data that’s collected about them online.

Called Project Bali, the tool is a kind of “personal data bank which puts users in control of all the data collected about them,” according to its website.

Project Bali was apparently discovered by Twitter user @never_released and first reported today by ZDNet.

“The bank will enable users to store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them,” according to the project’s website, which has since been taken offline. “It will allow the user to visualize, manage, control, share, and monetize the data.”

Project Bali, being developed by Microsoft Research, is based on a paper published by its computer scientists in 2014 that details some of the problems of digital privacy today. The paper notes that in most cases people simply have no idea what kind of data businesses and websites are collecting about them, nor do they have any convenient way to find out.

The paper’s authors suggest creating an “ecosystem” that would give consumers an easy way to see what kind of data companies have on them. They argue that businesses would benefit from this, since consumers usually prefer to deal with companies that act transparently rather than secretively.

It’s an argument that’s shared by Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research Inc., who said that a privacy initiative such as Project Bali would serve as a good operational and compliance asset as well.

“Giving people access to their digital footprint is an enormous challenge for all enterprises and cloud vendors,” Mueller said. “If Microsoft is taking a stab at this challenge, it’s a good step toward making these important privacy and compliance capabilities a little more real.”

Project Bali is currently invite-only, so it may be some time before we see any real product emerge from the initiative.

“We are still in initial stage,” the website said. “In this stage, we are focused on helping the user aggregate personal data from various websites and have an ability to view the data.”

Image: Microsoft

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