Personal data has been transformed into a valuable new currency in the digital age, with revelations over government surveillance and how companies are able to commercially exploit our data at the forefront of the debate.  But how much information is potentially available on the average smartphone user?  As an experiment, Daniel Thomas of the Financial Times decided to access his own data files from third parties to find out.

The author of the article explains how companies exploit personal digital data and recommends that data subjects perform an occasional data audit updating user preferences and assessing the extent of third party access to your personal data should be a new year’s resolution for most people.  Everyone should know who has what information and how companies use it.  The search may be painfully slow and laborious, but it helps to obtain a complete picture of data collection and dissemination practices.

For instance all communications groups based in the EU will give users data held on them on request, although some are better at responding than others.  The easiest way to obtain data from companies is through a subject access request.  This can be made through a form that most companies should have on their websites, or provide on request.  This is normally a simple process where individuals can list what information they require – although there is also normally a processing fee involved and a wait of several weeks.

Source:  Financial Times