Why we should all request our personal data

Requests for personal data are the first step in building a new digital world, more respectful of your privacy. That is why HestiaLabs encourages and empowers you to make more of them.

by Charles Foucault-Dumas published on 11 June 2021

Data rights

Photo by Jeremy Zero

Posting or commenting on a social network, searching for a train or bus schedule, and buying a ticket online, swiping on a dating application, finding your way on Google Maps, making a contactless payment, playing a network game, checking your bank account or your favourite recipe...: everything you do on the internet with your computer or smartphone leaves traces. These traces are your data. This data belongs to you, and you have the right to consult it.

How can you access your data? How can you "get it back"? All you have to do is ask the companies that provide the digital services you use (Facebook, Google, Uber, Tinder, your bank, your supermarket, etc.). They must answer. As explains PersonalData.io’s forum, "this right exists in the European Data Protection Regulation, but also in the laws of many other countries. Its use is depicted in the movie The Great Hack." And in the latest issue of Cash Investigation.

What’s HestiaLabs got to do with it?

HestiaLabs offers an alternative to the digital world we know. The use, without your knowledge, of your personal data has become the norm. In the 2000s, the digital wild west was built like this. But another way is possible. A world where you understand the data you generate, control it and decide who uses it and for what purpose(s). For example: you decide to share your daily travel data (place of departure, place of arrival, desired time of arrival) in order to receive the optimal journey according to the existing transport offer. All this without your data being sold for marketing purposes at the same time.

We'll get there. We are confident. But we are also aware that building this new world will take some time. We must create the infrastructure that allows you to regain control of your data. Reasonably, the first step is to build on what already exists: the data you already generate or have generated. This is where Subject Access Requests (SARs) come in. Mobility, social networks and media, dating apps... Take a look at the personal data recovery projects we have launched and join the ones that interest you. We will help you to recover your data and take control of it. In this way, you will participate, at your level, in the creation of tomorrow's digital services.

If you have an idea for a digital service that respects personal data, don't hesitate to tell us about it! HestiaLabs offers you its highly specialized technical expertise in data processing.

Unfortunately, requesting access to one's data still often looks like an obstacle course. That is why, with our partner PersonalData.io, we simplify this process by developing personal data request generators. Select the company you want to request your data from, and the tool will automatically generate the email to send and the email address to send it to.

Why is requesting your data so important to YOU?

Whether you participate in one of our data collectives or not, getting your data is about understanding the world we live in today. Why is this content being pushed to you rather than another? Why do you see this ad? Why does this plane ticket cost half as much for your neighbour as it does for you? Why are you being offered this connection? Why are your cinema and gym selling your email and phone number to data brokers?

Understanding the world we live in today is already changing it. To see the invisible traffic of data about you and the impact it has on your life is to realise how much you want to control it. How much you want to decide where it is stored, by whom it is used, and for what purposes. It means being able to discuss it with others and find people who, a little before you, have taken the same step. People who can help you understand the problem and the solutions that exist.

Understanding the world we live in today is also the first step in the discussions we must have, together, to reorganise things differently. For example, asking for your mobility data (VTC, velib', public transport) and delivery data (Amazon, Deliveroo, La Poste) means understanding the ongoing digitisation of your street and its huge stakes (such as the invisible but very present risk of privatising public space). And understanding the digitisation of the street will allow us to open a wider discussion, with local authorities, on how this digitisation of public space should be organised to benefit citizens first, and even to imagine concrete solutions.

In short: Ask for your data.

Charles Foucault-Dumas.

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