Digital Sovereignty 1.1 - Data Protection is THE Business Driver for New Apps and Services

The next wave of app(lications) and Internet services will be successful because of data protection!

In Search of the Killer App

The fight for customers and market share in the digital economy is tough. The first mover advantage seems to be most important due to the relatively simple internationalization of Internet services. Well known examples are Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Very often, the market leader offers maximum functionality which is easy to use. Other qualities of the offerings such as security, data protection, Digital Sovereignty are treated only as second in line. In the best case they are perceived as unnecessary, in the worst case, they are seen as detrimental and “killing business”.

 Many of the available functions are useful for daily use in the office, at home, or on the road and take advantage of man’s interest in games. This is one reason for the great success of smart phone apps. But why are so many users happy with the second best offering? Don’t they know the best solutions or can’t they find them? Is there no best solution available? Or are users just not interested?

Based on own experience, I know how difficult it is to get good functionality supporting my data sovereignty at a decent price. Finding useful apps for my mobile (phone/computer) is usually tedious and time consuming, if at all possible. So till now I have not run across an app store, which allows me to search for app functionality AND maximum data security and privacy. Only in the “small print”, often called end user license, you can find some high level statements with regard to data usage by the app. Forwarding information to third parties such as advertisers or other commercial users is not mentioned at all. Also till now I am missing research on the value of my data for service providers such as Google or Facebook.

There Is a Huge Potential for Secure Apps and Services!

Is this not a market for new service providers with excellent differentiation options? And what about the regulator? Are consumer organizations aware of this? And of course, we as users must act!

  • Each and every new service should refer to its users and to their data security and privacy requirements. Security properties are part of the product specification – as the energy level of an electric device such as a washing machine is part of the device specification in a store (manufacturers even use it for differentiating their brand from competitors). Important properties of a service or app could be: used encryption strength; whether data is forwarded – to whom, in what form; whether the app provider stores user data – which one, if anonymised; etc.
  • Why should not market alone decide upon the success of an app and why is regulation required? Electric devices can be used as example as well: On European level, energy classes have been specified in support of the European Community energy conservation goals. Data protection is of similar value for each EC inhabitant as is environmental protection and economic success – without data protection, EC members are exposed to a Wild West behavior of service providers.
  • Consumers have to get organized to get their requirements considered by governments and service providers. Open Source initiatives such as the Mozilla Foundation could help implement “good” services, i.e. services respecting user needs. Consumer organizations should extend their role to bundle user requirements or get regulation law implemented. They should act as concentrators of consumer interests in apps’/services’ data protection qualitities, which does not seem be available as of now - some very active data protection agencies seem to fill this role in some countries.
  • Last, but not least, we as service users – the consumers – have to act! Only if we understand the rights to our data and insist on their execution, can data protection play a similarly important role as the already well established consumer protection. But pay attention: Consumer protection and data protection are not available out of the blue – they require continuous user awareness and action, for example during the next ballot.

Read more on secure services and data sovereignty

  1. Security as differentiator
    Data Protection THE Business Driver for New Apps and Services (this report)
    Digital Transformation is Based on Data Sovereignty
  2. Security Architectures
    Architectures for Secure Internet Services
  3. Security Technologies
    in preparation
  4. Regulierung und Datenschutz
    in preparation
  5. Data Sovereignty
    Digital Sovereignty - What is it?
    Digital Sovereignty – why we need it
    Data Sovereignty - Why Do We Give It Up?