Microsoft working on providing more personal control of user data with “Data Dignity” team

Kareem Anderson

As a growing list of companies are looking for new and transparent ways to be conscientious stewards of users personal data, Microsoft is rumored to be going out on a limb to build a mechanism for users in which they could also buy and sell their data to third parties themselves.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley is reporting that “Microsoft is staffing up a new ‘Data Dignity’ team in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The team is researching ways to give users more control of their personal data.”

Perhaps in light of recent personal data infringements that include contractors listening in on Skype and Xbox user communications, Microsoft’s Data Dignity efforts could, at the very least, give its users some context around how their data is being collected and who is trafficking in it.

Alongside Foley’s investigation, which uncovered a new site called The Art Of Research where details of a collective tasked with coming up with new ways to secure data for Microsoft’s new Data Dignity efforts as well as the team behind it, the New York Times ran a profile piece on Microsoft’s CTO Jaron Lanier concepts of Data Dignity.

The interactive Times piece is a cool set of videos where Lanier explains the power dynamic of user data and how it fuels the internet, the slow and unintentional transactional process of 3rd party data trafficking as well as a future where users get personally paid directly for their data.

In not so public news, Microsoft has been quietly testing ways to give users ways to “visualize, manage, control, share and monetize data” through a Microsoft Research Incubation dubbed Project Bali. Earlier this year, we reported on Project Bali but it remained nothing more than a codename before the project was ultimately shelved as far as most people were concerned with.

However, it seems there may be some connective tissue between that Project Bali code name and what Lanier is championing today.

While there are no public roadmaps or timelines, Microsoft’s hiring trail leads to The Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) where the former Apple VP of AI and Siri team now reports to, signals the company’s intention to make Data Dignity a reality in the near future.