The rise of Facebook has reopened a can of worms - who owns an individuals personal data and their social networks?
Obviously, individuals want control over the data generated by their online activities, who their friends and colleagues are, and what they like or don't.
Yet Google, Yahoo, Skype, Telcos, Facebook, etc, all make money from that data. Facebook even publishes a mini-news feed about what each Facebook member does, such as uploading photos, leaving a comment, etc. There have been calls for open APIs, so that this type of data can be widely shared under the control of individuals.
Facebook is the closest to anyone in collecting a more complete clickstream and social graph about an individual. Fine, someone should create a "MiSpy" widget for Facebook that captures my Facebook data and breaks it open without requiring that Facebook adopt open APIs.
But why not go a step further and adapt conventional spyware technologies and allow each Internet user to capture their own clickstream, to capture every time they interact with a digital service, every time they communicate with someone, etc. And publish, sell, gift, or barter, all or some of it?
We have the technology.
MiSpy info would be more accurate, more complete, and more valuable than any single clickstream captured by Google or anyone else. We wouldn't need to sign a "Bill of Rights" and we wouldn't need to call for more open APIs.
It would overturn the economics of the Internet. Which is why GOOG, Facebook et al, would argue that there isn't much value in individual clickstreams or individual social graphs. They would argue that the value lays in aggregating that data.
Let's find out who's right.
This is the future battleground. The individual versus their web services. Two opposing agendas.