Your data is everywhere. This isn’t anything new - your data has been widely available in the offline world for decades. What’s changed is that data has moved online. What’s new is our ability to USE that data to solve complicated problems by identifying patterns and trends in rapidly changing or highly complex systems. What’s also new is the heightened insecurity that comes from not knowing what data is out there and how it’s being used. Trust is in short supply.
A recent op-ed in the NY Times says that government regulators are the only ones with the right incentives to police the collection and use of data. I could not disagree more. The author of that piece also implies that corporate reputation is the sole - and weak - incentive for applying safeguards. Just ask a company that has lost the faith of its customers whether reputation is a weak motivator or not. But ask them quickly, because they’re about to go out of business.
Developers are driven by many motivations. For most, the goal is to solve problems and make something that people find useful. The secondary motivation is to find a way to earn a living, and that often includes figuring out how to make money from the apps, widgets, skills, and programs they create.
Data is the air, water, and light that drives the digital economy, and hence developers will search it out and look for insights they can turn to good use. It holds the answers to curing disease, building communities, or finding a parking spot. But success depends on not just some data and a great app, but also on a large base of users willing to use the software and entrust their data to the developer. Trust is a huge driver for successful apps. The developers that ignore this quickly learn that the market has no tolerance for them.
The Developers Alliance believes that Trust is key to the success of the digital economy. Trust is built from a foundation of Transparency, Security, and Stewardship, and successful developers are those that embrace these values. To help spread this message, we are embarking on a program to help those outside the developer community understand data and where it comes from, how developers use it, and how they safeguard their users in the process of building valuable tools and services.
In the meantime, we caution those that believe restricting the use of data leads to a better future. It most certainly does not. IN that, at least, you can trust.