personal data stores

What Do Personal Data Stores Mean for Privacy Regulations, Digital Identity, and Customer Trust?

Personal data stores are at the intersection of Europe’s most important trends.
Philippe Haenebalcke
February 28, 2023

Our data is stored everywhere: on our phones, in our computers, and in thousands of disparate databases. Even compiling all data about one person at one organization can be challenging, involving pulling in data from different siloes to form a complete view. A consumer often has no idea what data a company has collected about them, and is often limited in actions they can take to delete or access that data. These challenges are part of the reason personal data stores are becoming more appealing to organizations and individuals alike.

What is a personal data store?

Personal data stores provide a place for organizations to merge all the data they have about an individual citizen or customer. The individual can then access, add, and curate their data, and they can manage how their data is shared with other organizations. As a result of increasing concern about how personal data is used and who has access to it, personal data store technology has been a key area of research and innovation in recent years. Solid, for example, is an extension of the web that can provide every user a Pod for their data. Solid includes regulation-neutral permissioning and stores data in a common format. That means Pod data can be shared across applications and organizations, improving user experiences and resulting in improved services. 

Personal data store technology aligns well with the European Data Strategy, which aims to make the EU a leader in a data-driven society by creating a single market for data. Letting data flow more freely across the EU can drive innovation in key areas like health, energy and mobility. Personal data stores enable data collaboration in Europe while protecting the privacy of the store’s owner and managing this data securely.   

Personal data stores also offer companies an intuitive way to comply with GDPR, CCPA and newer data privacy regulations, such as the right to access one’s own personal data or delete this data. Personal data stores are fast, cheap, and private, facilitating the easy flow of information across organizations and governments while upholding security and privacy needs.  

The advantages of personal data stores for individuals are numerous: Storing all of your data in one location eases the stress of locating important information, such as a vaccination record or tickets to an event. With emerging technologies like verifiable credentials, essential documents like driver’s licenses, university degrees, or passports can be available through the web in a secure, machine-verifiable manner, making it simpler to use public services. 

Personal data stores in action 

Solid Pods are already in operation in Flanders, where every citizen of the Belgian region is slated to receive a Solid Pod for their government services. A number of cross-industry use cases using Solid Pods are already underway, including projects that simplify the sharing of professional credentials and payroll data without including unnecessary personal information.

According to the Flanders government, the use of personal data stores in the Flemish data economy allows data to flow more freely, leading to new insights for organizations and more control and privacy for citizens. Using one personal data store enables better government services for a citizen by reducing the need to enter the same data multiple times, and allows citizens to manage different aspects of their life—such as their career, family, or health—from one central location.

Digital identity 

As digital identity is becoming an increasingly important issue in Europe, digital wallets are designated as a key method to store and exchange personal information, use public services, and verify your identity credentials. Personal data stores function in a similar manner to digital wallets, but can go one step further by letting an individual’s personal data unlock greater insights and services for them. By allowing companies to have access to optional behavioral information, such as streaming history, driving habits, or shopping preferences, personal data stores enable organizations to provide individualized services to consumers and have a better understanding of their target audience, leading to benefits for both parties. 

Strengthening customer trust

Hosting personal data stores is also an exciting opportunity for companies to strengthen their customers’ trust and improve customer journeys. Companies who invest in personal data store technology today gain a competitive advantage by showing their commitment to data transparency and understanding their customers’ desire for more insight into their personal data. Additionally, early adopters of personal data stores will uniquely reap the benefits of new insights driven by creating a complete, accurate view of their customers. If customers can view, edit, and augment their own data, companies can be assured their customer data is up-to-date and provides an accurate snapshot of their customers’ needs. 

As consumers are growing increasingly concerned about what data is stored about them and the purpose for which it is used, personal data stores help assuage this unease by providing more data transparency and choice. Customers who have an insight into where their data is going are more likely to provide additional personal data if they receive an added benefit, such as better services or certain discounts. This added value of more personalized services increases customer loyalty, creating a lasting, transparent relationship.

Companies who prioritize investing in personal data stores position themselves as leaders in an increasingly identity-driven, privacy-centric digital world. 

Want to learn more about how your organization can use personal data stores to increase customer trust and drive data insights? Contact us today. 

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